Schools funding has been protected in real terms for the next two years, alongside a new funding formula for sharing out the money. Earlier this month, Miss Greening told MPs the proposed new formula would ‘represent the biggest improvement in the school funding system for decades’.
It aims to end the uneven funding through local authorities that has resulted in some schools – particularly those in inner London – receiving thousands of pounds more per pupil than other areas.
However, there remains a regional difference meaning schools will continue to face an unfair ‘postcode lottery’ with some being able to afford a class size of 20 but similar schools in other regions forced to have classes of 35 pupils.
Jules White, head teacher of Tanbridge House School, in West Sussex who coordinated the letter says his own school budget is £6.7m per year, but an equivalent school in inner London could receive £9.6m. The result is bigger class sizes, staff cuts and fewer support services.
The letter being sent today (Thursday 28th September) to parents of children in 17 counties, will say:
“Parents and carers need to be clear that schools in very similar socioeconomic areas will continue to have entirely different levels of funding. This often amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds in the primary sector and even millions of pounds across the secondary sector. Far from being resolved, your child’s education will still be at the behest of a postcode funding lottery.”
Simon Murch, a teacher in Sheffield, said most schools still faced real-terms budget cuts and were struggling to keep up with rising costs. “What this means in Sheffield is that lots of schools are looking to restructure and teaching assistant posts are being lost. Some schools are not putting salaries up. There is a lot of scrabbling around trying to find ways of saving money,” Murch said.
Head teachers have calculated the new proposal amounts to a real-terms cut of 4.6 per cent by 2020 compared with five years earlier. They are encouraging parents to lobby their MPs for improved funding,
Rob Corbett, the principal of Ifield community college in Crawley, West Sussex, also one of the coordinators to the letter, said he had been forced to make cuts worth £350,000 in recent years, and described the new funding formula as a “political fudge”. “If we do not get substantially increased funding, our ability to support the range of needs of our students becomes significantly reduced,” he said.
“Our students take the same GCSEs as others in the country and we are judged by the same Ofsted framework, but we are supposed to do this for far less money per student, which seems wrong to me.”
Labour’s Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, said the letter showed the government was still not giving schools the resources they needed. “There is no new money and every penny has been found by cutting the education budget elsewhere,” she said.
The Department for Education said the reforms meant “for the first time school funding will be distributed according to a formula based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country. It has been widely welcomed and will put an end to the historic disparities.”
A spokesman added: “As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed, overall schools funding is being protected at a national level in real terms per pupil over the next two years.”
September 28, 2017