New law means LAs must pass minimum funds to schools

Critics say cash boost 'will only begin to repair damage', as local authorities told they must provide all schools in their area with up to £5,000 per pupil

Amy Gibbons

Local authorities will have to pass minimum funds to schools from next year

Local authorities will be required by law to ensure all schools receive their minimum funding entitlements from next year, the government has announced.

The change in legislation means that in 2020-21, LAs will be responsible for guaranteeing at least £5,000 per pupil at secondary schools, and £3,750 (rising to £4,000 in 2021-22) per pupil at primary schools in their area.

A Downing Street statement said: "Previously, local authorities were not required to allocate the money for schools in this way - with many schools across the country falling below the minimum levels of funding for each pupil. 

"These new regulations mean that all local authorities will now have to pass on the required levels of funding to every school in their area, which will help make sure that no school loses out simply because of their location or historic local rules. "

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The legislation was laid in Parliament today.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said the new law will give schools a "cast-iron assurance" that they will receive the money they need – regardless of their location.

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the funding increase would "still leave spending per pupil no higher than in 2009, a significant squeeze in historical terms".

And critics have claimed that, despite the cash boost, the financial situation for schools will continue to be "extremely challenging".

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: "The government’s rhetoric is excellent, it is a pity the reality for the vast majority of schools does not match it."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: “It is great that minimum funding levels are being enshrined in legislation, but this is to do with a historic inequity in the way that school funding is distributed and not the fact that there is not enough money going into the system in the first place.

"The reality is that the financial situation for schools and colleges will continue to be extremely challenging and the funding crisis is not over."

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said the government "would be wrong to suggest that it is ‘job done’".

"There’s more to do, and we should start by engaging with the profession about how the money should be spent. Simplistic formulas may look attractive in an election campaign but the profession knows that school funding is a complex matter," he said.

"There will be winners and losers; we need to make sure that no child falls behind."

Jules White, from the WorthLess? campaign, added: "No headteacher is going to grumble at seeing extra money come into our schools – it is welcomed.  After a decade of savage cuts, however, this funding will only begin to repair the damage done to our schools."

In November, it was alleged that this extra cash may not reach schools where it is most needed – only “where it is politically needed”. 

Luke Sibieta, research fellow at the IFS, said: "Today's announcement re-states an existing commitment to introduce compulsory minimum funding levels across all schools in England.

"This will provide a bigger boost to schools which currently have the lowest levels of funding per pupil, which tend to be schools attended by more affluent families." 

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: "Levelling up education is the key to helping every child reach their full potential.

"We’re guaranteeing the minimum level of funding for every pupil in every school so that, with a top class education, our children can go on to become the world’s future innovators, trailblazers and pioneers.

"As we start a new chapter in our history, our younger generations will be front and centre of all that we do."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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