Schools are underfunded by £2 billion a year, an influential group of local councils claimed today.
The f40 group, representing the worst-funded education authorities – most of them Conservative-controlled – says it has reviewed its position on the government’s new schools national funding formula (NFF) and now believes it has failed to deliver the fair funding required.
Schools funding formula 'flawed'
The f40 group will be presenting a briefing paper to MPs next week setting out its position.
- The f40’s own index-linked formula, which sets out the true costs of delivering to Ofsted standards, shows the real cost of running a school – and it believes the current funding shortfall in schools is £2 billion per year;
- A key principle for the NFF was that pupils of similar characteristics should attract similar levels of funding wherever they are in the country, but the protections applied "lock in" some historical differences;
- f40 seeks to see plans for the funding formula beyond 2020. It requires the establishment of rolling three- to four-year budget settlements for schools that are inflation-proofed, including funding for cost-of-living increases.
Ivan Ould, who chairs the group and is also lead member for children and families at Leicestershire County Council, said: “f40 welcomed the government’s commitment via the NFF to a fairer system for allocating school funding, and the extra £1.3 billion made available for schools between 2018 and 2020.
“But f40 has fundamental concerns about the NFF and believes it has failed to deliver the level of fairness of funding allocation that is required, and there is unanimous recognition within our membership that there is still more work to do to tackle remaining locked-in inequalities.
“In essence, the government failed to effectively deal with the core problems associated with the fair funding of our schools. Therefore, the job isn’t finished and f40 has no choice but to continue to campaign for further change to assist our schools with very low levels of funding.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We want every child to have a high quality education and since 2010 the proportion of pupils in good or outstanding schools has risen.
"We are investing in our education system and our National Funding Formula is giving every local authority more money for every pupil.
"We recognise that there is more pressure on schools to do more, which is why we have taken a number of steps to help them get the best value for every pound. Our government-backed deals are helping schools save money on things like utility bills and other non-staff spend."