Fairer funding system announced for schools

Education secretary announces new funding system for schools in a bid to end postcode lottery

Published on 15th September 2017

A new fairer funding system for schools has been announced by education secretary Justine Greening.

Ms Greening stated that for the first time, funding will be based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country, ending the postcode lottery and huge disparity in funding between similar schools in different parts of the country.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said “This new formula will ensure a consistent approach to funding schools based on the needs of their pupils and we support the range of factors being used to determine each school’s allocation.”

The NFF will provide funding gains for schools across England, allocating:

  • an increase in the basic amount allocated for every pupil;
  • a minimum per pupil funding level for both secondary schools and primary schools to target the lowest funded schools;
  • a minimum cash increase for every school of one per cent per pupil by 2019-20, with the most underfunded schools seeing rises of three per cent per pupil in 2018-19 and 2019-20
  • a £110,000 lump sum for every school to help with fixed costs, and an additional £26million to rural and isolated schools to help them manage their unique challenges

Ms Greening said: “Standards are rising across our school system and a fairer funding formula will ensure we can build on that success. It will replace the outdated funding system which saw our children have very different amounts invested in their education purely because of where they were growing up. That was unacceptable and we have now made school funding fairer between schools for the first time in decades.

“It’s a long overdue reform and our £1.3 billion extra funding means every school can gain,” she added.

Mr Whiteman said that while the new formula and the additional £1.3 billion over the next two years was welcome, it is still short of addressing the £3bn funding gap that the National Audit Office highlights schools face from 2019.

“School budgets are at breaking point, and we calculate that schools need at least an extra £2 billion each year of this parliament to address real terms cuts. Without that, schools will be forced to cut staff, narrow the curriculum, remove pastoral support and restrict after school clubs. The Chancellor must address this in the upcoming Budget, as the changes in school funding need to be backed up by sufficient funding from the Treasury. This is the next step the government must take,” he added.

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Justine Greening has failed schools, pupils and parents in her announcement today."

“The government has been promising ‘fairer funding’ for years but has instead been cutting schools’ funding per pupil in real terms. This has resulted in larger class sizes, a reduced curriculum, fewer teachers, resources and materials. This clearly is detrimental to children and young people’s education.

“In anticipation of this announcement, the NEU and other education unions set Justine Greening five tests.  She has failed every one of them:

  • School cuts have not been reversed.  This announcement means that the vast majority of schools will have less money per pupil next year and in 2020 than when this Government took office in 2015.
  • There is no new money.  These plans are still based on taking money from other areas of education spending and making unrealistic assumptions about ‘efficiency savings’ which hard-pressed schools cannot achieve.
  • High needs, early years and post-16 education are not being fairly funded.  These areas have suffered the biggest cuts - but she has said nothing about early years and post-16 funding and the funding increases promised for high needs pupils are well below inflation.
  • She has made no long term funding commitment.  Schools need to be able to plan for the future.  Instead of announcing and guaranteeing funding for at least the next five years, she has not even confirmed the limited extra funding promised in the manifesto.
  • Historic underfunding will not be addressed.  Schools in historically underfunded areas may receive some extra money, but it will not be enough to protect them against inflation and other cost increases - and it is being taken away from other schools which will now lose even more.

“Education must be fairly funded and the only way to do that is to provide more money.  The NEU will continue to lead this campaign alongside parents until the government sees sense,” he concluded.

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