Friday, 15 September 2017 09:17

Changes to school funding confirmed

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Changes to school funding confirmed

Rural schools will gain up to 5% in funding under a plans for a fairer national funding formula, says the government.

Education secretary Justine Greening detailed government reforms to introduce fairer funding for schools in a statement to parliament on Thursday (14 September).

It follows proposals set out by her department last December.

“Our formula will rightly result in a significant boost directed towards the schools that are currently least well-funded directly,” she told MPs.

For the smallest, most remote schools, Ms Greening said the government would distribute a further £26 million in dedicated sparsity funding.

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

Eligible schools

The national funding formula would recognise all eligible schools.

Secondary schools that would have been the lowest funded under government proposals last December would now gain on average 4.7%.

Ms Greening added: “Rural schools will gain on average 3.9%, with those schools in the most remote locations gaining 5.0%.”

Schools with high numbers of pupils starting with low attainment would gain on average 3.8%.

The national funding formula would provide a per pupil cash increase in respect of every school and every local area, and maintain the overall budget in real terms, per pupil, said Ms Greening.

Historic reform

“This is an historic reform,” she said.

“Resources that the government is investing in our schools will be distributed according to a formula based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country.”

Ms Greening said the national funding formula would direct resources where most needed, helping to ensure every child gets the high quality education they deserve, wherever they live.

“It will also provide that money through a transparent formula, providing greater predictability.”

There was “manifest unfairness” when Coventry received £510 more per pupil than Plymouth despite having equal proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals.

Similarly, Nottingham attracted £555 more than Halton – near Liverpool, in Cheshire.

Improvement

“Addressing these simple but damaging inequalities will represent the biggest improvement in the school funding system for decades,” said Ms Greening.

“It is a step that previous governments have failed to take for far too long.”

Ms Greening confirmed an announcement previously made in July, that the government would put an additional £1.3bn into core funding for schools and high needs.

The overall budget would now rise by around £2.6bn in total, from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to around £42.4bn in 2018-19 and £43.5bn in 2019-20, she said.

In 2019-20 all secondary schools would attract at least £4,800 per pupil. All primary schools would attract at least £3,500 per pupil through the formula in 2019-20.

Final decisions on local distribution would be taken by local authorities.

But under the national funding formula every school would attract at least 0.5% more per pupil in 2018-19, and 1% more in 2019-20, compared to its baseline.

Ms Greening said: “After too many years in which the funding system has placed our schools on an unfair playing field, we are finally making the decisive and historic move towards fair funding.”

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