Monday, 18 September 2017 16:26

Fairer funding 'vital' for rural schools

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Fairer funding 'vital' for rural schools

Fairer funding is vital for England's rural schools, the Rural Services Network has warned.

The network issued the warning in response to confirmation that the government is to reform the funding formula for schools.

Rural schools would gain up to 5% in funding under plans for a fairer national funding formula, said education secretary Justine Greening.

The government would distribute a further £26 million in dedicated sparsity funding for the smallest, most remote schools, she said.

    See also: Changes to school funding confirmed

Only 47% of eligible schools received sparsity funding in 2017-18 because some local authorities chose not to use this factor, said Ms Greening.

Rural Services Network chief executive Graham Biggs said: "Fairer funding is vital for England's rural schools which are themselves vital to our rural communities as a whole."

He added: "Schools in rural and sparsely populated areas have often lost out due to inconsistencies in funding levels for individual schools with similar characteristics across the country."

Ms Greening said the government's revised funding formula would result in a significant boost directed for schools that were currently least well-funded directly.

But the National Education Union said there was "no new money" in the government announcement.

Pupils and parents

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “Justine Greening has failed schools, pupils and parents in her announcement."

Mr Courtney added: “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."

The government had failed to reverse school cuts, said Mr Courtney.

Most schools will have less money per pupil next year and in 2020 than when the government took office in 2015, he added.

"There is no new money.

Assumptions

"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."

Mr Courtney said the NEU was working with other groups to organise a lobby of Parliament on Tuesday 24 October.

The protest would "allow parents and others to show MPs the extent of opposition to these proposals," he said.

"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."

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