New funding formula to result in 'truly scary 15 per cent budget cuts'

Revamped funding regime could create 'losers and bigger losers', NASUWT conference hears

Kaye Wiggins

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Teachers have told of plans for substantial budget cuts at their schools, amid concern that the government’s new national funding formula will worsen the quality of education for some pupils.

Speaking at the NASUWT’s annual conference yesterday, Katherine Carlisle, a teacher from Birmingham, said her school's preparations for a 15 per cent cut would be “truly scary indeed”.

On Saturday, education secretary Nicky Morgan told the union the government’s plans for a new national funding formula, announced this month, would “put an end to the antiquated system of school funding" which resulted in an "unfair postcode lottery".

Ms Carlisle said she agreed with the government that it was not fair that under the current national funding system, some schools received as much as 50 per cent more funding than others.

But she said it was also “not fair” that the government was planning to address this by cutting funding to better off schools.

“Cutting some school budgets so that underfunded schools can get more is definitely not fair,” she said.

“I’m a teacher governor at my school and at the most recent governors’ meeting we were informed that we would be writing budgets based on a five per cent, ten per cent and even a 15 per cent cut in funding to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for any future cuts.

“A 15 per cent cut would be truly scary indeed for our school.”

She said the extra £500m announced by chancellor George Osborne in this month’s budget, to fund the introduction of a new formula, “does not sound like enough to equal out the historic disparities.”

She said: “I’m concerned that the cuts can only result in a loss of jobs, the recruitment of cheaper teachers, the recruitment of unqualified teachers and an overall reduction in the quality of education for our young people.”

Nick Trier, a member of the union’s national executive, said the new formula would create “losers and bigger losers” rather than “winners and losers” because other funding pressures could outweigh any gains.

Derek Moore, also a member of the national executive, told the conference: “The funding cake does not increase in size [under the new formula], and simply cutting it up differently doesn’t mean anyone benefits.”

Speaking at the conference, the union’s general secretary Chris Keates said: “Schools are facing further anxiety as a result of the government's plan to revise the national school funding formula.

“Given the government's track record of cuts to school budgets and at a time when further austerity measures are being planned, the NASUWT is concerned that the revised funding formula is likely to create winners and losers, with the consequent impact on children's education.”

Delegates at the conference unanimously backed a motion that said the union “deplores the action of governments since 2010 in depriving governments across the UK of much-needed funding to deliver educational entitlements for all children.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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Kaye Wiggins

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