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Funding shake-up on agenda

RADICAL plans for local authority finance, to be unveiled by the Government this summer, are likely to put a price on pupils' heads, writes Clare Dean.

The move, which comes amid calls for a national funding formula for schools, will be one of a range of options to shake up council funding.

The complex nature of the present system, with its standard spending assessment and five education blocks - under-fives, primary, secondary, post-16 and "other" - has often been criticised.

Among those now calling for a national formula are Chris Woodhad, the chief inspector of schools, the two headteacher unions and the School Teachers' Review Body.

This week Michael Bichard, the permanent secretary at the Department for Education and Employment, said he would be surprised if "per capita funding" did not feature in the green paper on funding this summer. He hinted to the House of Commons education select committee that he expected it to dominate suggestions.

Junior education minister Jacqui Strong admitted last week that there were problems with the way funding was distributed.

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