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‘Winners and losers’ in education reform

Changes to education funding could increase some schools’ budgets and restrict others, research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows.

Currently most funding goes directly to local authorities who then decide how to divide it between schools. The Government has proposed a plan to base funding on one nationally set formula instead.

The study concludes that even if the formula is kept as simple as possible, to minimise disruption to schools, around 15% of schools would face cuts of 10% or more compared with the current system. Around one in 10 would see their budgets rise by 10% or more, creating inequality.

The IFS report states: “Whatever formula is chosen, it will lead to a large number of winners and losers relative to existing policy. This is an inevitable consequence of replacing the current system, where funding levels can be based on myriad historical and local factors, by a simpler version that seeks to make funding more transparent and consistent across the country.”

However, they also suggest that maintaining the current system would also be detrimental, as it could lose transparency and relevance to educational needs over time.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We want to make it fairer, simpler and more transparent. The introduction of a new formula would inevitably mean that some schools would receive more funding and some would receive less.

“We would, however, put in place transitional arrangements to ensure that schools do not experience sharp changes to their budgets.”

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