Maths teachers have called for the government to rethink a decision which could halve per-pupil funding aimed at helping those who arrive at secondary school without reaching the expected standard in reading or maths.
The numbers of pupils falling below the expected standard has more than doubled in maths and tripled in reading this year, but the government has said the "catch-up" money schools get will not rise to match this.
Tougher Sats tests mean that the number of pupils who have not reached the expected standard in maths has now risen to 30 per cent of the year group – compared with just 13 per cent who did not reach the previous expected standard in 2015.
The number who fell below the expected standard in reading has risen to 34 per cent, compared with 11 per cent in 2015.
In the past, secondary schools were given £500 "catch-up" funding for each pupil who was below the expected standard in either reading or maths.
Schools must publish details on their website of how much they receive in catch-up funding, how they intend to spend it, how much was received in the previous year and what difference it made to the pupils it was intended for.
Now each school has been told it will get the same amount of money as the previous year, with an adjustment made to allow for any increase in overall pupil numbers, but regardless of the change in the number of pupils arriving below the expected standard.
The Mathematical Association (MA) and the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) have urged Justine Greening, the education secretary, to rethink the way catch-up classes are funded.
Funding 'totally inadequate'
In a joint letter, the associations point out that freezing the funding “seems totally inadequate".
“With a challenging new curriculum for Year 7, schools will be unable also to provide the needed intervention for this vulnerable cohort without proper funding….Teachers simply cannot keep giving more without the quality of the rest of their work suffering,” Dr Jennie Golding, president of the MA, and Anne Haworth, chair of the ATM, state.
Letter from MMSA sent to Justine Greening in July to make her aware of our concerns about the Year 7 progress check. https://t.co/0N7yGvr0j4— Mathematical_A (@Mathematical_A) August 29, 2016
They point out that the funding has been used to provide activities such as additional tutoring, breakfast clubs and additional online resources.
David Miles, spokesman for the Mathematical Association, said that not only were schools being held accountable for how the funding was used by Ofsted, but also the proposed Year 7 resits for 2017 would put extra pressure on secondary schools to ensure children were up to the expected level – perhaps after the first term of starting secondary school.
“There will be less funding per child, but the same expectation to deliver," he said.
“If the government expects us to deliver in a couple of months, what primary schools have not done in six years, that is difficult to do without sufficient funding.”
In the 2015-16 financial year, £46.6 million was distributed in catch-up funding for 93,180 pupils.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
"It is vital that children master the basics of English and maths by the time they reach secondary school or they risk being left behind. We are continuing to provide additional funding to secondary schools to help support those children who do need more help to catch-up.”