Schools with richest intakes get double extra funding

Academies with lowest proportion of FSM pupils get half the extra money from parents' donations and other non-government sources that those with highest proportions do

Catherine Lough

Parents are increasingly being asked to donate money to schools, research suggests

Academies with the highest proportions of disadvantaged pupils receive around half the additional income from parental donations and other non-government sources that those with the least disadvantaged intakes get, according to a new study.

A report, published today by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), finds primary academies with "low" proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) receive an additional £200 per pupil on top of their government funding from donations, voluntary funds and self-generated income.

But primary academies with a "high" proportion of disadvantaged pupils got just £100 in additional funding per pupil.

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And there was a similar discrepancy at secondary level, where academies with the most advantaged intakes received an extra £225 per pupil, compared with £115 for the most disadvantaged. 

The report defines schools with low proportions of FSM-eligible pupils as having less than 10 per cent of their pupils eligible for free school meals, while schools in which over 25 per cent of pupils are eligible for FSM are defined as having a high proportion of FSM-eligible pupils. 

Despite this, the report states that "the school funding system in England is broadly progressive, with pupils from more disadvantaged backgrounds attracting, on average, higher funding, as do pupils with low prior attainment, and those with English as an additional language".

The report found that overall spending by primary schools – between 2002-03 and 2016-17 – had increased at a faster rate at 51 per cent than it had for secondary and special schools at 36 per cent.

However, overall secondary schools receive government funding that is more than 22 per cent higher than the primary sector. 

The study also found that combined funding and expenditure for schools with disadvantaged pupils had increased at a faster rate since 2002-03. 

By 2016-17, primary schools with high proportions of disadvantaged pupils were spending on average 22 per cent more per pupil than schools with low proportions of disadvantaged pupils, up from 11 per cent in 2002-03.

Schools in London also receive the most funding and are the highest spenders – primary schools in the capital receive 27 per cent more per pupil than primaries elsewhere, while London secondary schools receive 28 per cent more per pupil than schools outside the capital.

Between 2002-03 and 2016-17, the greatest increases in funding were seen in London primaries, ranging from 41 per cent in schools with a low proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals to 55 per cent in schools with high levels of FSM eligibility.

The smallest increases were seen in secondary schools with low levels of FSM – 26 per cent in London and 27 per cent elsewhere.

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