The chancellor has said that the new national funding formula will resolve “unhappiness” about investment in schools.
Philip Hammond used an appearance on the BBC’s Marr Show this morning to blame the “skewed distribution” of money between school for many of the concerns about funding.
When challenged about funding pressures that have seen schools close early on Fridays and headteachers having to clean toilets, he said: “I don’t want to see any schools closing early. We have put £1.3 billion of additional funding into schools in 2017.
“We have now introduced a fair funding formula which is ensuring the money is spread more fairly between schools.
“There is a very big difference between the funding that different schools in different areas get at the moment. That’s not fair and that’s giving rise, I think, to a lot of the disquiet.
“A lot of the unhappiness that is being heard is because of the skewed distribution.
“We have to resolve that and we are doing so through the fair funding formula but it will take time.”
When asked whether his forthcoming spending review, which he announced on Wednesday, will stop schools having to close early, he replied: “We have put money into schools in 2017 and we have protected school spending in real terms per capita.”
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that per pupil school funding fell by 8 per cent in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18, and was frozen up to 2019-20.
On Friday, the Association of School and College Leaders said schools need £5.7 billion more in 2019-20 than is in their budgets.
The union said it arrived at the figure by examining what was needed to deliver “the basic expectation on schools".
On the same day, education secretary Damian Hinds told the union’s annual conference in Birmingham that he had “heard the message loud and clear on school funding”.
Addressing the estimated 1,000 headteachers, he said: “When the government sets out its spending allocation for the period ahead, I will take that opportunity to make the strongest case for education.
“For me, it is not only a moral argument about our priorities – although that cannot be overstated. But from a hard-headed point of view, for a strong, highly skilled economy, clearly we need the right level of investment [in schools], and with the revolution in technical education, we need the right investment in our colleges.”