Education: Balls must cut £1.1bn but protect pledges

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Front-line services in schools will be spared from cuts in spending but the axe is being prepared for elsewhere in the education budget.

That will mean key Labour pledges – promising every 16- and 17-year-old a place in education or training this September and one-to-one tuition for pupils struggling to master maths and English – survive.

There will be an overall 0.7 per cent real-terms increase for 2011/13 in school spending – on top of a 2.3 per cent per pupil increase this year. However, the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, has been told that his department must deliver £1.1bn-worth of efficiency savings by 2012/3 as part of the Government's overall drive to prune spending.

As part of the drive, schools have been told they could potentially deliver £950m in administration – by items such as banding together to buy in joint services at reduced costs.

Mr Balls has already identified £300m worth of the savings from the centrally held budget – such as £50m worth of savings to bursaries to attract would-be teachers to training courses will be pruned as recruitment to the profession improves as a result of the recession.

The Training and Development Agency, responsible for teacher recruitment, has recorded applications from men soaring by about 50 per cent.

Other areas facing a cut include some of the Government's quangos – Becta, an agency which helps schools get to grips with technology, and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority, which is responsible for policing the national curriculum but has lost its exams regulatory role to the newly set-up watchdog Ofqual. Savings here will be £135m.

A further £100m will be saved by stopping start-up funding for schools planning to offer their facilities to the community out of school hours. As 95 per cent of schools already do so and will receive funding to continue, this is seen as hardly likely to cause much impact.

Lastly, communications will be cut by £5m - largely through restricting the satellite TV channel Teachers' TV – which provides professional development – to broadcasting online.

As a result of the squeeze on what are termed "non-protected" areas of the budget, it will, though, be possible to increase spending on front-line services by more than the overall 0.7 per cent real terms increase in the budget.

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