Speaking to the Education Select Committee on 21 March 2018, the secretary of state for education, Damian Hinds, acknowledged the significant cost pressures that schools are experiencing but suggested there would be no additional funding ahead of the comprehensive spending review in 2019.
Hinds said that school leaders were in the best position to decide how pupil premium funding should be spent to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. Fellow Conservative MP Michelle Donelan suggested that a full scale review of the funding would be timely in order to maximise its impact and consider auto-enrolment of eligible pupils; while Hinds said such issues should continually be considered, he did not commit to a full review.
Asked whether he plans to give Ofsted the power to formally inspect multi-academy trusts, Hinds declined to address the question directly and spoke about the different responsibilities of the inspectorate and regional schools commissioners (RSCs).
Hinds also acknowledged that teacher workload is a significant problem in schools and reiterated his commitment to continue the DfE’s work on this topic, as well as to tackle misunderstandings about what Ofsted expect to see during inspections.
Other topics covered in the session include admissions of looked after children, the recently announced review of exclusions, whether there is sufficient children’s services funding for early intervention, the DfE’s apprenticeships policies and funding for further education.
Similar topics were covered in the House of Commons Education Questions on Monday. In this session Nick Gibb, minister of state for the school system, told MPs that the DfE is not struggling to find sponsors for schools across the country as a whole and that, in his view, the system is working.