Scrabble letters making up the word budget with other letters scattered around

The world stopped in their tracks yesterday with news of the Spring Budget. Radios were turned up, and tvs were turned on. Having had time for a closer inspection, we’ll take a brief look at how the budget might affect the realm of education, whether you are a parent, student or lifelong learner. 

Science-based and technical education has already given us much to talk about, with announcements about the new T-levels at the weekend. These T-levels aim to introduce parity to technical education and students aged 16-19 will be given 50% more training, including a high-quality, three-month work placement.

In theory this sounds like a promising idea if properly thought through and implemented, however whether they can pull it off remains to be seen. In a similar vein, diplomas were launched with a big fanfare and considerable expense in 2008, however they proved unpopular and unsuccessful and were axed in 2013 by the new Cameron government.

The government also wants students to study in National Colleges or Institutes of Technology and said it would provide maintenance loans, similar to those given to university students, to those on technical education courses at levels four to six (degree level) in these institutions. 

It is also thought that the number of young people undertaking degree apprenticeships is set to increase next year. According to Universities UK, applications will increase by more than 650% in 2018, with an additional 7,611 apprentices due to start university courses over the next three years. The spike in new entrants will stem mainly from students who live close to their chosen university, and will see the vast majority of institutions open up to additional apprentices. 

Alongside the new T-levels, £300m will be given to support 1,000 new PhD places and fellowships in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. They’ll also be dedicating £270m to put the UK "at the forefront" of disruptive technologies including robotics, biotech and driverless vehicle systems; an interesting addition for Eluceo our work with schools introduces them to the world of both biotech and robotics and what careers in these industries might look to them in the future. 

Grammar schools - May’s first Trump moment?

Well, that’s how the introduction has been touted in the Guardian today. The Budget certainly noted that there would be £320m of funding for 110 new free schools (which could also be selective) and grammar schools. Furthermore, free school transport is to be extended to all children on free school meals who attend a selective school, hopefully increasing the number of pupils attending a selective school from a poor background. 

Many stakeholders are against the revival of grammar schools, and as the Royal Society concluded from an Education Policy Institute study of existing selective schools there is no evidence to suggest that grammars raised standards of schooling overall

As well as the introduction of more selective schools there will be an additional £216m fund for existing schools, although this comes after the news that the new central “funding formula” means that grants to individual schools by decrease by as much as £400,000 a year. Furthermore, the education budget is so stretched it must cut capitation payments to schools by 8% over the next three years.

An interest in lifelong learning

The Government this year have announced an interest in lifelong learning, something we here at Eluceo have expressing for a long time now. Although the measures are paltry, the change is music to my ears, and hopefully a start towards something more substantial. £5m has been given to support people returning to work after a career break, which will mainly affect women, whilst the Government have announced that they are to allocate £40m to test ways for people to retrain through their working life.

Alongside the introduction of the new T-levels, these moves come as part of an attempt by the Treasury to increase productivity. In 2015, the UK average output per hour was 35% less than Germany and 30% less than the US.

Let us know what you think about the new budget, and how it will affect you, you family, your education and your working life.