In March 2016, the then Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, announced that consultations would begin on the national funding formula; a system long awaited by many.
The formula has long been heralded as ‘fair’ funding, bringing an end to the inequality felt under the current system.
Schools currently receive funding based on ‘historic calculations’ on demographics which have changed greatly. This means that there are discrepancies between schools across the country, with some receiving £6,300 on average per pupil and others £4,200. In 2015, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) reported the gap between the best and worst funded schools to be £1.9 million.
The fair funding formula will see funds re-distributed with a ‘flat per-pupil fund’ and additional funds relative to living costs in the area and school expenses. Students on Pupil Premium will still receive support in funding.
Whilst the system appears fair and ideal, it does mean some schools will lose funding. Losing money will mean the financial struggle is shifted to other schools. London boroughs are set to be the hardest hit and proposals announced this month show that 9000 schools will be affected.
More recently, professionals have criticised the lack of funding for schools in the first instance, suggesting that simply re-distributing finances will not solve the funding problems overall. It will not affect the expenses driven up by the recruitment crisis for instance.
Following proposals announced in December 2016, Headteacher Geoff Barton, who is set to gain from the change, has expressed his concern that, ‘it was never the idea that fair funding should mean children in one area doing better by taking money away from children in another.’ He suggested that rather than shuffling a ‘looming crisis’ we should be ‘investing’ in our nation’s education.
Education Secretary, Justine Greening reassured Headteachers this month that no school could face a reduction of more than 1.5% per pupil and described the plans as a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ that would allow ‘the best possible chance to give every child the opportunity to reach their full potential.’
The National Audit Office has since announced an 8% budget cut by 2019-2020, arguably outweighing the extra funds any schools receive from the new system.
The new funding scheme is expected to be in place for 2017-2018.
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