£50m-a-year school improvement fund to launch

A £50m-A-YEAR fund to address underperformance in schools is to open to councils next year, the Government has announced.

From September 2017, the funding will help local authorities to continue to monitor and commission school improvement services for maintained schools, education secretary Justine Greening said.

She added that maintained schools will be allowed to pool funding from their Dedicated School Grant to buy school improvement services, such as bringing in subject or curriculum experts.

The education secretary also announced a £140m Strategic School Improvement Fund for academies and maintained school designed to ensure resources are targeted at schools with the greatest need to drive up standards and deliver more good places.

In addition, the Education Endowment Fund has committed to spend a further £20m over the next two years to scale up and share evidence-based school improvement programmes and approaches.

The new funding comes after councils called on the Government to reverse a £600m cut in the Education Services Grant from next August. The Local Government Association said the move could leave councils without the capacity to effectively deliver school improvement at a time when alternative sources such as Teaching School Alliances, multi-academy trusts and regional schools commissioners do not have the same geographic reach and no track record of success.

Greening said it remains the Government's ambition that all schools will become academies to create a "school-led system" for driving improvement.

"I want this investment to not only transform outcomes for children by improving schools, but also to make sure our school-led system learns from that work. That is why the EEF has a key role to play in this project," she said.

"It's vital that we now pull these two aspects together to get the maximum impact for children and schools."

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, added: "We know from our work over the last five years that capacity, particularly in the most challenging schools, is critical to helping schools improve and use an evidence-informed approach to driving up attainment.

"We therefore very much welcome these additional funds and look forward to supporting the system to make most use of the growing research base of what works."