New national funding formula will see 10,740 schools gain and 9,128 lose

Long-delayed announcement follows today's National Audit Office warning that schools face real terms cuts of 8 per cent

Martin George & Charlotte Santry

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A new national funding formula (NFF) for schools outlined by education secretary Justine Greening today will see 10,740 schools gain but 9,128 lose out.

However, even the schools that would benefit from the new system risk seeing their increased income outweighed by real-terms cuts to their funding over the next three years.

The long-delayed announcement came on the day the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that schools would have to make savings of £3 billion by 2019-20 amid soaring costs and real-terms funding cuts.

The report was also heavily critical of the Department for Education, saying it had been unable to assure the NAO the savings will be achievable, and had failed to clearly communicate to schools the scale and pace of savings needed.

The government today said some schools would lose up to 3 per cent over two years after the NFF is introduced.

A total of 10,740 schools are set to gain from the new system, while 9,128 are likely to see their funding fall.

Ms Greening told MPs: “The proposals for funding reform will mean that all schools and local areas will now receive a consistent and a fair share of the schools budget so that they can have the best possible chance to give every child the opportunity to reach their full potential.

"Once implemented the formula will mean that wherever a family lives in England, their children will attract a similar level of funding, and one that properly reflects their needs.”

London is due to be one of the big losers, while small rural schools and those with high numbers of pupils in disadvantaged areas, but who are not eligible for free school meals, are set to gain.

The NFF will include a mobility factor, for schools with high turnover of pupils during the school year, and a sparsity factor, which will benefit rural schools.

Ahead of today’s announcement, Association of School and College Leaders interim general secretary Malcolm Trobe warned that even schools that gain from the new funding formula would see real-terms cuts in their spending power.

He said: “All schools are facing effective reductions, so even those that might gain from NFF will probably still see real-term reductions in their ability to purchase what they need.”

“The bottom line has to be that, given all the pressures, they need to put some more money into the school system.”

The new funding formula is due to be introduced in 2018-19, a year after the government had originally said it would be in place.

It is being brought in to tackle wide variations in per-pupil funding rates across the country, from £7,007 per pupil in Tower Hamlets to £4,151 per pupil in Wokingham in 2015-16.

Under the current system, the needs of different areas are based on assessments made a decade ago.

There will now be a 14-week consultation on the NFF proposals.

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Martin George & Charlotte Santry

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