Time to implement delayed schools funding formula ‘simply isn’t long enough’

Transferring schools funding from councils to Whitehall cannot be properly implemented in the period allowed, councils have warned.

Education secretary Justine Greening finally announced the new formula in a House of Commons speech, where she confirmed that the Department for Education (DfE) will introduce the new funding for schools in 2018-19.

Under the proposals, schools will gain a funding increase of up to 3% per pupil in 2018-19, and 2.5% increases in 2019-20. The DfE promised that the schools that lose out would not lose out by more than 3% per head. She added that or pupils with high-level special educational needs, where funding changes could be even more acutely felt by the most vulnerable young people in our society, no area will see their funding reduce.

But Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA children and young people board, said: “Councils know their local schools best and have long supported them to cope with funding changes.

“The delay in publicising this new consultation leaves only one year now for councils to continue working with schools before planning transfers to Whitehall. This simply isn’t long enough to embed new ways of working for schools and for some to adjust to having significantly less money.”

Cllr Watts called on the DfE to extend the transition period and to phase implementing the formula to protect schools that will suffer reductions.

However, the education secretary stated that the “proposed reforms will mean an end to historical unfairness and underfunding for certain schools”.

“We need a system that funds schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than their postcode,” said Greening.

The announcement follows a National Audit Office report, which criticised the DfE for failing to support schools in meeting the target of £3bn efficiency savings by 2019-20.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, warned: “Far from being the levelling up that some councils and heads have demanded, this is a levelling down. Even the schools currently worst funded will see real terms cuts in this Parliament.

“The government’s proposed changes to the school funding system do not begin to address the key issue for schools, which is the government’s imposition of the biggest real terms cuts in a generation. Funding cannot be ‘fair’ if it is not sufficient.”

The DfE also said that local authorities will receive up to 3% increases in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively for high needs services, with no local authorities suffering a loss; and will receive increases of up to 2.4% in 2018-19 for central school services, with no losses greater than 2.5%.

A consultation on the proposals will run until 22 March. To take part, click here.

(Image c. Isabel Infantes EMPICS Entertainment)

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