Funding formula should mean £3,500 for every primary pupil

But the amount is only "notional", adds education secretary Justine Greening

Charlotte Santry

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Each primary pupil will "attract" funding of £3,500 per pupil, education secretary Justine Greening revealed today as she confirmed details of the National Funding Formula for schools.

Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, Ms Greening repeated a previous pledge to give schools an extra £1.3billion from 2018 to 2020, which will be taken out of the capital budget for schools.

The announcement of the per-pupil funding for primary pupils follows an earlier announcement that each secondary pupil would attract £4,800 from 2018-19, when the formula takes effect.

However, as Tes revealed yesterday, these amounts are only "optional", and local authorities will have the final say on how much money is allocated to each school in their patch.

Ms Greening clarified this in her statement today, reminding MPs that the formula was only "notional" and that the actual levels of funding for each school would be decided by local authorities.

Ms Greening today said the NFF will provide:

  • an increase in the basic amount allocated for every pupil;
  • a minimum per pupil funding level for both secondaries and primaries to target the lowest funded schools;
  • a minimum cash increase for every school of 1 per cent per pupil by 2019-20, with the most underfunded schools seeing rises of 3 per cent per pupil in 2018-19 and 2019-20
  • a £110,000 lump sum for every school to help with fixed costs, and an additional £26million to rural and isolated schools to help them manage their unique challenges

She 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 It will replace the outdated funding system which saw our children have very different amounts invested in their education purely because of where they were growing up.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.

But the National Education Union (NEU) for teachers said Ms Greening had "failed schools, pupils and parents in her announcement today".

Joint NEU general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “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."

He said the vast majority of schools will have less money per pupil next year and in 2020 than when this government took office in 2015, that there is no new money, and that historic underfunding will not be addressed. 

"Schools in historically underfunded areas may receive some extra money, but it will not be enough to protect them against inflation and other cost increases - and it is being taken away from other schools which will now lose even more," he said.

In addition, high needs, early years and post-16 education are not being fairly funded, he added.

Headteacher unions welcomed the formula as a way of reducing funding inconsistencies. But they warned that schools are still facing severe funding pressures and that local authorities may decide not to implement the formula.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT union said: “This new formula will ensure a consistent approach to funding schools based on the needs of their pupils and we support the range of factors being used to determine each school’s allocation.

“However, we are disappointed that the opportunity has been missed to ensure that the funding goes directly to schools based on their need."

Mr Whiteman highlighted that, for the first two years, the funding will go to local authorities to allocate according to their own local formulas, adding "there is a real risk that this could perpetuate some of the inconsistencies this [formula] was intended to address".

The extra £1.3bn is “ well short" of addressing the £3bn funding gap that the National Audit Office says schools face from 2019, he added.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL union, said: "It is essential that schools are funded fairly wherever they are located, and that historical inequities which have created a postcode lottery are removed.

“Setting minimum funding levels for schools is also a welcome move, but we need to examine whether the levels announced today by the Secretary of State are sufficient. We fear they are still way too low to allow schools to deliver the quality of education they want to provide and which pupils need."

A further £2bn a year is needed to address real-terms cuts between 2015 and 2019, he added.

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Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry is Deputy news editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @CharlotteSantry

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