Justine Greening gives the North East the nod

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In July 2017, the Education Secondary set out plans for the Department of Education to increase spending on schools by £1.3 billion leading to 2020. At the start of the new academic year Greening sought to bring about historic reform: for the first time the government would be distributing funds to schools based on the individual needs and characteristic of each school within the country.

The past was plagued by damaging inequality as schools in areas deemed to be remote or rural were not receiving funding.  Instead funding was concentrated closer to metropolitan areas. In many ways, the inequality of funding was expressed along historic class lines to an extent and areas characterised by low socio-economic status. The aim of the new national funding formula is to address historical inequalities in funding and to maintain stability so that schools and local areas are not disadvantaged.

The end of October, Greening addressed an audience at a Teach First conference.  Prodded by an interviewer from the north-east, Greening said that she was hopeful that funding reform would tackle entrenched equality between pupils.  She was further quoted as saying that she was “as passionate as [the audience] about the north-east”. The interviewer highlighted that under the current regime, none of the areas that access extra funding from the DfE come from the north-east. In her reply Greening said that some work has been carried out by the Social Mobility Commission that have identified “cold spots” around the country and the challenge is “marrying” these with the objectives of the DfE. Greening’s speech had an overriding theme of social mobility and its prominence in the life of the DfE. She specifically mentioned that coastal regions, remote and rural locations were “cold spot” areas that present opportunity for reform and was quick to say that she “hoped” the north-east would be added to this list.