DfE withdraws £85 million in school improvement funding

Around £85 million in funding has been withdrawn after it was announced that the Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF) would be closed.

In an announcement this month, the Department for Education (DfE) said it is currently reviewing arrangements for school improvement support and will announce details of future funds in due course.

However, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has expressed concern after it was revealed that just 40 per cent of the fund’s £140 million had been spent.

The fund was initially introduced to help schools most in need to improve performance and pupil attainment, as well as to help them use their resources most effectively and deliver more good school places.

The funding could have been used across a variety of school improvement activities, including leadership, governance, teaching methods and approaches and financial health and efficiency.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “This is a fund which, in the government’s own words, ‘targeted resources at the schools most in need to improve school performance and pupil attainment’.

“There are plenty of schools ‘most in need’ at the moment. School budgets are at breaking point, as government funding fails to keep pace with additional costs and inflationary pressures.”

Mr Whiteman said he hopes to see a revised fund announced in the near future.

“School improvement, and improving the lives of disadvantaged children, costs money,” he said.

“We can only hope that the government has better plans for the money it is saving here, and that it does still use it to improve our children’s futures.”

The DfE has confirmed, however, that the SSIF: emergency funding will remain open. Emergency funding will be considered in the event of unexpected or imminent failure, unexpected withdrawal of planned/existing support to address failure, or failure where other long-term support options are not feasible.

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