Academies plan could leave poorest schools short of funding, warns CCN
County councils have stated their opposition to a “one-size-fits-all” approach to funding schools as part of the government’s plan to turn all schools in the country into academies.
The government announced in last month’s Budget that they will turn all schools into academies and free schools by 2022, taking away local authorities’ control over them.
The County Councils Network’s (CNN’s) response to the consultation into the schools funding formula says that while they support the scheme in principle, there is no evidence that channelling funding directly to schools is the best way to meet individual needs, especially those of schools in areas of high need and small schools in rural areas.
Cllr David Borrow, CCN finance spokesman, said: “It is vital that children across the country are provided with an equal chance to meet their potential. Schools, in partnership with their local authorities, have delivered an excellent standard of education, despite the historical underfunding in county areas.
“We welcome the prospect of fairer funding for county schools. However, a one-size-fits-all national funding formulae and the continued push by government towards full academisation will remove any local discretion on how best to distribute funding to deliver the best outcomes for local children and counter any short-term difficulties faced by rural schools.
“The size and scale of county local authorities means that they are ideally positioned to take a strategic overview of pupils’ needs and cost pressures facing schools in their local areas. It is imperative that government recognise their vital role when making their final decision how best to distribute the proposed national school funding formula.”
However, they do support proposals in the consultation to mitigate the impact by including additional funding for factors such as a high proportion of pupils on free school meals, a high proportion of pupils with English as an additional language and low school attainments.
The news comes after Cllr Louise Goldsmith, the leader of the Conservative-controlled West Sussex County Council, wrote to the government setting out the council’s opposition to the academy plans.
The Times reported today that Nicky Morgan, the secretary for education, is considering changing the plans to permit high-performing local authorities to manage their own academy chains and allowing councils to retain their powers to force academies to take vulnerable pupils or those with special needs and encourage them to increase the number of places.
A National Audit Office review of the Department for Education’s spending last week found no adequate information on how much academies cost.
(Image c. Creatas)