School funding cuts will damage London's international reputation, mayor warns

Capital's pupils will be hardest hit by government's planned new school funding formula, according to Sadiq Khan who today pledged to fight the changes

Jonathan Owen

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Pupils across London will pay a heavier price than their peers elsewhere under the government’s plans to change the way schools are funded, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, warned today.

Cuts to funding will hit schools in the capital harder than anywhere else in the country and damage its international reputation, according to Mr Khan.

Seventy per cent of London schools face reductions in funding under the new national funding formula proposed by the government.

Speaking at his first Education Conference at City Hall, the Labour politician said: “At a time when our capital’s schools are already dealing with looming budget cuts and struggling to recruit teachers, it is completely unacceptable that the Government has chosen to hit London’s children the hardest.”

London’s reputation status as “an international beacon for education, with a proven track record in supporting disadvantaged pupils,” was being put at risk, he said.

Mr Khan added: “These proposals risk undermining everything our excellent teachers have worked to achieve. A miniscule portion of the budget would ensure no school across England has to lose out in this formula.”

London Councils, who represent the 33 boroughs in London, estimates that an extra £335m in funding would ensure no school across the whole of England loses out in the new formula.

The mayor of London pledged to work alongside education leaders “to fight strongly for a fairly funded school system and nurturing our capital’s young talent for generations to come.”

His comments came as the Mayor’s Education Annual Report, released today, warned that while standards are higher in London than the rest of England, the capital lags far behind other countries such as Finland and Canada, with London “someway off” having “world-class” secondary schools.

The proposed new schools funding formula “will impact London schools with budget reductions greater than anywhere else,” according to the report.

Anger is mounting among teachers, with some threatening to defy their governing bodies if they are asked to make cuts.

Richard Slade, headteacher of Plumcroft Primary School in Plumstead, commented: “If the proposed funding cuts were to happen then my school will be unsafe. I'm already cutting staff and services to try and deliver a balanced budget, so to make even more cuts would mean a large number of redundancies. Standards will fall and the needs of our most vulnerable pupils will not be met.”

He added: “I have made it clear to my governing body that if I am required to implement the cuts then I will refuse on the grounds of safety and negative impact on standards."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The government has protected the core schools budget in real terms since 2010, with school funding at its highest level on record at more than £40bn in 2016-17.”

The new funding formula was needed to end “the historic post code lottery in school funding” and replace the current system, which was “unfair, opaque and outdated.”

They added that under the new system, which is due to begin next year, “more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost”.

London would “remain the highest funded part of the country under our proposals, with inner London schools being allocated 30 per cent more funding per pupil than the national average.”



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