Polly Toynbee is completely wrong to claim we are cutting support for children falling behind (The Guardian’s comment is free: 24/05/10).
We’re actually doing exactly what the taxpayer expects - protecting core schools, college and Sure Start funding in the financial year 2010 to 2011 but not hesitating in cutting out bureaucracy, waste or unused spending.
We are spending £256 million in the financial year 2010 to 2011 for 7- to 16-year-olds who need catch-up support in English or maths this year so no child due to receive help will miss out. But we are handing £47 million of centrally-held funding, unallocated by the previous government, back to the Treasury as part of our savings package.
We will continue to spend £89 million this year in the Every Child schemes giving extra support for 5- to 8-year-olds in the three Rs. But we are able to release over £5 million, mainly from unallocated spending because the Department for Education had planned for a higher number of teacher leaders in writing than needed. All local authorities who want to take part in the programmes this year can still do so.
And longer-term we are clear that while there will be difficult decisions ahead, we will take the right balance between urgent action to manage the public finances; protecting frontline education services; and using the pupil premium to give significant extra funding for disadvantaged children who need the most support.