Disadvantaged children will be hardest hit by school funding changes

Friday, November 4, 2016

A new interactive website reveals that schools with the most deprived pupils would see the greatest reduction to their budgets if the proposed new funding formula is introduced.

Launched today by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), schoolcuts.org.uk anticipates how individual schools across the country would be affected by the Government's plans to introduce a new schools funding formula alongside real term cuts to funding per pupil and cost increases. 

According to the website, nine in ten schools (92 per cent) could face budget cuts of more than six per cent in real terms over the next four years. 

Schools with the most deprived children would be worst hit if the Government reallocates the existing overall schools' budget. It shows that primary schools with a high number of disadvantaged pupils would lose an estimated £578 per pupil. 

Earlier in the year, the Government announced plans to introduce 'fairer' school funding. Due to be introduced in April 2018, the aim of the new national funding formula is to tackle uneven levels of funding across England by ensuring every school has funding matched to its need. However, teaching unions claim that the proposed new funding formula will provide no new money and ignores 'genuine' funding problems. 

The NUT and ATL warn that real-term reductions to funding will force schools to increase class sizes, cut staff and resources as they try to balance the  books, which will have an impact upon pupils, in particular those that are disadvantaged.  

The figures on the website are based upon the Government's own spending plans and school data, Institute for Fiscal Studies projections for the cost of inflation and other cost increases, along with the new funding formula proposed by the f40 campaign group of local authorities. 

Made up of the lowest-funded education authorities in England, the f40 campaign group's new model for distributing education funding retains the existing Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) structure with three blocks: schools, early years and high needs, and would see funds allocated through a needs-based formula. The group claims this would remove any reliance on historic spending patterns. 

The website, which enables users to see how all schools in a postcode area are likely to fare between now and 2020, also shows how estimated funding losses equate into numbers of teacher posts. 

It anticipates that while no local authority area will overall be better off, some areas will fare better than others. 

The worst affected areas would  be in London, with Southwark, Hackney, Haringey and Lambeth facing real term cuts of 16 per cent. Other areas across the country that would be badly hit include Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham and Southend-on-Sea. 

The local authorities that are likely to be least hit are Bath & North East Somerset and Dorset, both of which would see a four per- ent loss to their funding. 

The NUT and ATL are now calling on the Government to take immediate action to inject what they say is much needed money into an already 'beleaguered' system and protect schools from rising inflation. They argue it is the only sensible solution to a 'crisis' already underway, and which is set to get harder for schools to cope with. 

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said, 'No head teacher should be put in the position of increasing class sizes, leaving building repairs undone or cutting staff and resources simply to balance the books. Nor should any parent accept this for their child. We are one of the richest countries in the world. We can and we should be funding our schools properly.' 

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teacher and Lecturers (ATL), said, 'We urge the Government to increase the overall funding for schools. If it just reallocates the existing budget many children will lose out, with some of the most deprived children being hit hardest. It is ill-conceived to think the formula for schools’ funding can be reformed alongside real term cuts to the overall schools’ budget. No school should be forced to cope with a drop in funding that will jeopardise its ability to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum and recruit and retain staff. All children deserve a fair chance to succeed and should not suffer because schools are under-resourced by the Government and teachers over-worked.' 

The Department for Education were contacted for a response

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