George Osborne raises concerns over school funding formula

16th March 2017 at 17:13
George Osborne
Former chancellor first announced the formula but has now taken a 'direct' message about teachers' concerns to education secretary Justine Greening

Former chancellor George Osborne has raised concerns about the proposed national funding formula for schools with education secretary Justine Greening.

It was Mr Osborne who announced that a formula would be introduced from 2017-18 in his 2015 autumn statement. 

But now the MP for Tatton, Cheshire, says he has given a "direct" message to the goverment about teachers' fears over the impact of the new formula – the introduction of which is now delayed until 2018-19.  

Mr Osborne's intervention comes in the week that the Department for Education dismissed claims that it is planning to ditch the controversial formula.

There was a further report in The Times today that the formula could be the next government proposal to fall victim to backbench pressure, following chancellor Philip Hammond's U-turn on national insurance contributions yesterday.

Mr Osborne used his website to reveal that he met with Ms Greening last week "to raise the concerns about the impact of the new school funding formula on Cheshire", along with other local MPs.

'Teachers and parents and worried'

He said: "I wanted the government to know directly how concerned local teachers and parents in Cheshire are about the new schools formula.

"There's no substitute to giving the message direct to the education secretary – so that's what I did.

"Everyone knows we need a new formula and that there isn't extra money lying around, but the money needs to be fairly distributed. I said when I met with local schools, I would be a strong voice for them – and that's what I will continue to do. My hope and expectation is that the message is getting through"

The formula is aimed at ironing out inconsistencies in the way similar schools are funded around the country. But because it does not come with real-terms increases to per-pupil funding, the majority of schools  – even those seen as "winners" under the formula – still face squeezed budgets.

There has been mounting pressure – within the Conservative party and beyond – for the government to provide schools with more money. The formula itself has also been criticised by grammar heads and councils in the lowest-funded areas for handing too much money to schools with high numbers of deprived pupils.

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