New school funding formula 'papering over cracks'

Headteachers have accused the government of "papering over the cracks" of the education cash crisis following the announcement of a new funding formula.

Worth Less? campaign
Worth Less? campaign

Today (September 14), secretary of state for education Justine Greening set out measures to replace the current outdated system with the National Funding Formula.The new system, which the Department for Education said would put an end to the "postcode lottery" of funding, will see core funding rise from £41bn in 2017/18 to £42.4bn in 2019/20, with a further rise in 2019/20 to £43.5bn.Primary schools will get at least £3,500 per pupil from 2019/20, while secondary schools will get at least £4,800 per pupil.West Sussex schools have been among the lowest funded, receiving £4,198 per pupil, with East Sussex schools receiving £4,443.58 per pupils.Ms Greening told MPs that under-funded authorities would receive up to 3 per cent more per year for the next two years.While welcoming the new formula, Jules White, one of the co-ordinators of the 17-county strong Worth Less? funding campaign, said the figures took no account of rising costs and that, in real terms, budgets were being "slashed".Mr White said: "A new funding formula is welcome but despite the fanfare, Ms Greening’s announcement will be a major disappointment to schools, students and their families. "Everyone has accepted that with rising costs and a chronic shortage of specialist teachers a new, meaningful settlement was required."Whilst we will take time to look at the fine detail this appears to be an attempt to simply ‘paper over the cracks’. "Arbitrary funding caps within the formula mean that the massive disparities between adequately funded and inadequately funded schools will continue. They will be locked in for years to come."The spectre of even larger class sizes, teacher shortages, reduced pastoral care and even reduced curriculum time will not recede until all schools are adequately and fairly funded.” Last week, Worth Less? conducted a survey of 620 headteachers across 17 counties – from Cornwall to Norfolk.Some 97 per cent of respondents said Ms Greening's announcement of an extra £1.3bn to be shared across the thousands of schools in the countrye was simply "not enough" to make a real difference. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, welcomed the more consistent approach to funding ensured by the new formula - but said he was "disappointed" that money would still go to the local authority rather than directly to each school.He added: "Whilst we welcome the new formula and the additional £1.3bn over the next two years that the secretary of state has pledged to support these improvements, the fact remains that it’s still well 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 £2bn 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.”

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Justine Greening, secretary of state for education