Primaries to get £3,500 minimum per pupil, under new formula

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Under the new National Funding Formula (NFF), published today, a new minimum per pupil funding level will be introduced.

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The Government has confirmed details of school funding plans

Publication of the long-awaited NFF, follows two Department for Education (DfE) consultations, which generated more than 26,000 responses, and an announcement in July that schools would receive an additional £1.3 billion of funding over the next two years – money found within the Department’s existing budget.

Outlining details of the new NFF in parliament, which comes into force from next April and promises fairer funding for schools, the education secretary Justine Greening, revealed the Government are building on consultation proposals with the introduction of a minimum per pupil funding level for both secondaries and primaries to target the lowest funded schools.

Under the formula, primary schools will receive at least £3,300 per pupil in 2018-19, rising to £3,500 in 2019-20. Secondary schools will receive at least £4,600 per pupil in 2018-19, rising to £4,800 the following year.

Ms Greening also revealed a minimum cash increase for every school of 1 per cent per pupil by 2019-2020, with the most underfunded schools seeing rises of 3 per cent per pupil in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

There will be £110,000 lump sum for every school to help with fixed costs, and an additional £26 million in dedicated sparsity funding for rural and isolated schools to help them manage their ‘unique challenges’.

To provide stability for schools through the transition to the NFF, each local authority will continue to set a local formula, which will determine individual schools’ budgets in their areas in 2018-19 and 2019-20, in consultation with local schools.

Alongside publication of the formula for schools today, the Government has also confirmed reforms to funding for children and young people with high needs. Every local authority will see a minimum increase of 0.5 per cent per head in 2018-19, and 1 per cent per head in 2019-20. Underfunded local authorities will receive up to 3 per cent per head a year for the next two years. Overall, local authorities will see an average increase of 4.6 per cent on their high needs budgets.

Education secretary Justine Greening said, ‘Standards are rising across our school system and a fairer funding formula will ensure we can build on that success. It will replace the outdated funding system which saw our children have very different amounts invested in their education purely because of where they were growing up. That was unacceptable and we have now made school funding fairer between schools for the first time in decades.

‘It’s a long overdue reform and our £1.3 billion extra funding means every school can gain.’

Sector response

However, teaching unions have said the additional money is still not enough.

Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice the union, said, ‘While we welcome the extra funding for schools previously announced, and the minimum funding levels and more consistent approach announced today, it seems unlikely that these measures will be enough to bridge the funding gap.

‘This is not a solution to the immediate funding crisis facing schools, even for those that will eventually see extra money. 

‘We are also disappointed that the funding will not, for the first two years at least, go directly to schools so they can make their own spending decisions based on need.

‘Schools must be funded fairly according to need, and there must be an end to the unfair postcode lottery.’

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said, ‘Justine Greening has failed schools, pupils and parents in her announcement today.

‘The Government has been promising "fairer funding" for years but has instead been cutting schools’ funding per pupil in real terms. This has resulted in larger class sizes, a reduced curriculum, fewer teachers, resources and materials. This clearly is detrimental to children and young people’s education

‘This announcement means that the vast majority of schools will have less money per pupil next year and in 2020 than when this Government took office in 2015.

These plans are still based on taking money from other areas of education spending and making unrealistic assumptions about ‘efficiency savings’ which hard-pressed schools cannot achieve.’

He added, ‘Early years and post-16 education are not being fairly funded. These areas have suffered the biggest cuts, but nothing has been said about them. Funding increases promised for high need pupils are well below inflation.’

Angela Rayner MP, Labour's shadow education secretary, said, 'Today’s announcement on the National Funding Formula follows years of pressure from the Labour Party as well as schools, teachers and parents across the country, forcing the Government to abandon millions of pounds in outright cuts to schools.

'However, it does not go nearly far enough to meet the Tories’ own election promises and is far less than Labour pledged in our manifesto. For many pupils and schools, funding will fall in real terms between now and 2020, which comes on top of a £2.7 billion in real term cuts since 2015. 

'There is no new money for education at all, and this funding for schools is coming from other cuts to education budgets. Only months ago, ministers guaranteed that the healthy pupils fund would be protected – now it is being cut by over 75 per cent, and the education secretary can’t even tell us where else the axe will fall.'

Councillor Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) Children’s and Young People Board, said, ‘The Local Government Association has long called for fairer funding for all schools and for councils to be able to work with schools to set budgets that reflect local need. We are therefore pleased that the Government has recognised the important role councils can play in the introduction of the national funding formula by giving councils and schools the flexibility to set budgets locally. This will help schools and local areas adapt to the new formula in the long term.

‘Councils have been concerned for some time about the growing funding pressures facing support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). It is therefore right that the Government has allowed councils to retain the ability to make additional funding available, with the agreement of schools, to meet the rising demand and pressures for SEND support.

‘However, asking schools to meet the shortfall in central government funding for this vulnerable group is not sustainable in the long term, particularly given the huge pressures facings schools’ core budgets.

‘Councils are calling on Government to launch a fundamental review of high needs funding in order to ensure we meet the needs of our most vulnerable children.’

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