I meant to get this out at the time of the big announcement, but hey, it was Christmas. A quick note on the knighting of Mr. Clegg. Not really in the scope of this blog to look at him as a whole politician but I want to pick up, in particular, on the defense of this move in terms of education and the Pupil Premium:
The Lib Dems and Conversatives made much ado about the Pupil Premium money being from ‘outside the schools budget.’ What is rarely reported now in discussions of this policy is the fact that they cut all of Labour’s Area Based Grants which did the exact same job of targeting deprivation in schools but it was done locally instead. In its first year, the Pupil Premium it amount to £0.5 billion which compared to the £0.9 billion of the Area Based Grants.
This is not a point about Pupil Premium doing little to offset more general cuts to education (the traditional, and simplistic, critique of the Coalition’s education policy.) Education spending, as a proportion of GDP, was maintained at the same level as it was prior to the crash. On the other hand, cuts to support elsewhere in terms of welfare, social care and Sure Start shifted a lot of problems onto schools; cuts to local authorities had an impact on schools etc. Even if none of that were true, the Coalition can’t be proud of the Pupil Premium- it was simply a direct rebranding of money cut from elsewhere which had served the exact same purpose. And yes, Pupil Premium money did increase over the course of the Parliament but still only to £1.25 billion; Labour’s Area Grants, had they been maintained in real terms, would have represented £1.32 billion at that point.
Services to education? Sadly not, Sir Clegg.