ADCS criticises decision to scrap school improvement grant
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Children's services leaders have slammed the government’s decision to axe funding to support school improvement.
The Local Authority School Improvement Monitoring and Brokering (LAMB) grant has been handed to councils since 2017 to help local schools improve.
But last year the government launched a consultation on plans to end the grant from the start of the 2023/24 financial year 20 and slash the funding in half from April 2022/23 “to give schools time to adjust to these new arrangements”.
Despite objections from councils and schools, ministers have announced this week that they will continue with their plans to remove the grant.
Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) president Charlotte Ramsden says that this decision “appears contrary” to the particularly “crucial role” councils played during the pandemic in helping schools to support children.
She details how the fund is used for the deployment of school improvement teams to help schools avoid the need for formal intervention. It also provides resources to schools, particularly smaller ones in rural areas.
“This announcement instead appears inconsistent with plans to create an ‘eco-system of schools’ to drive school improvement and improve outcomes for all children,” she added
“As the government plans the education system for the future there must be a strong and defined role for the local authority at its heart.”
The government’s plans for axing the grant focus on councils being able to fund school improvement through ‘de-delegated funds’, which are deducted from a schools’ budget. This is already permitted under agreements between councils and schools
But Ramsden says that “the shift towards de-delegation to fund these activities only puts more pressure on school budgets”.
More than 560 responses were received as part of the government’s consultation over plans to cut the grant, including 156 from councils and 215 from council maintained schools.
Among respondents 70.6 per cent disagreed with the removal of the grant.
The government says that it recognises that “the majority of respondents” had “raised concerns”.
“These centred on whether schools and councils would be able to absorb further funding pressures; what would happen if schools forums did not agree to de-delegation for core school improvement activity; and the desire for further clarity on what is considered core school improvement. Others noted the challenging implementation timescales,” concedes the government’s response.