The government’s independent review into the funding of schools won’t be finished until June this year.
This has been pushed back from an original target of October 2022, according to the chief minister.
Alfred Cannan has not provided details of why delays have occurred but added that after a competitive process the Premier Advisory Group (PAG), which specialises in the creation and funding of free schools and academies, was awarded the contract to conduct the review.
In a written question submitted by Douglas East MHK Joney Faragher, Mr Cannan says the aim of the review is to consider the level of provision in all areas and future policy offered as part of the island’s education system so as to ‘improve the quality of service’ or ‘allow a lower cost of delivery’.
He added: ‘The government’s Island Plan has committed to review education funding so resourcing is focused into the right areas with the most positive impact.
‘The school delivery system is now at a point where the Council of Ministers wishes to engage independent consultants to consider the current value for money of funding provided to schools.’
For 2021-22, the Department of Education, Sport and Culture had a spending budget of £109 million, of which £64 million is for primary (32 schools) and secondary education (five schools).
A further £12 million goes straight to the University College Isle of Man, which is not included in the review.
Mr Cannan said: ‘Like most other government departments, the DESC has, over the past 10 years or so, had to cope with budgetary restrictions which have meant that general inflation and pay awards have been above the resources made available.
‘This has led to cost saving efficiencies but there are also concerns that this has reduced the quality of services.
‘With the exception of one private school in the island, all schools are state run and all staff are employed by the government.
‘A number of services that would be funded within UK schools are provided via either a central or shared service.’
To achieve its aim, the review will provide recommendations on the quality, equity and sustainability of the current funding model, the adequacy of the core allocation mechanisms for school budgets, the adequacy of the support for those with additional needs, and the value for money achieved through the provision of the funding.
In undertaking the review, consideration will be given to ‘models of good practice’ in the UK and other jurisdictions to enable a comparison of both funding and delivery with the Isle of Man model.
A final report will set out conclusions and recommendations together with a summary of the evidence that has been gathered to inform the outcomes of the review.
While the review is focused on day to day spending, capital investment in the island’s schools still remains unresolved as the government continues planning the future replacement of Castle Rushen High School as well as primary schools in the Isle of Man.