Primary funding inequity exposed;News;News and opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
PRIMARY schools are on average almost pound;700 per pupil worse off than their secondary neighbours, new figures released this week reveal.

They highlight massive differences within primary and secondary schools and expose huge variations within local authorities.

The findings come five years after the House of Commons education select committee said the difference should be reduced.

MPs said new money should go into primary schools but the Tory government disagreed. Now statistics available for the first time due to the Fair Funding regime show the full scale of the problem.

Analysis by the National Association of Head Teachers of council budget plans, discloses the biggest differential in Telford and Wrekin.Secondary schools in the authority get pound;2,442 a pupil - pound;970 (65.9 per cent) more than primary schools.

On average, councils give 39 per cent more for a secondary pupil.The other greatest differences are in Milton Keynes (59.1 per cent) where secondary pupils get pound;920 more; Derby City, 58.5 per cent or pound;856; Trafford 56.6 per cent or pound;879; Shropshire 56.6 per cent or pound;858; Middlesbrough 54.6 per cent or pound;827; Derbyshire 53 per cent or pound;790 and Reading 52.9 per cent or pound;845.

Downing Street is said to be alarmed at the funding disparities. The Treasury is looking at the link between budgets and pupil results.

The NAHT's analysis, based on the budgets of all but 15 of the 150 councils, highlights the problems for some mainstream schools which are more than pound;1,000 per pupil worse off than others.

And it shows the lottery in education funding, where school cash may be allocated according to factors as diverse as the number of trees or type of grass in grounds.

Numbers of trees on school sites bring extra cash in Sutton, Stockton, East Sussex, Nottinghamshire and Bracknell Forest, while cash is allocated by their height in Reading. In Bolton, the budget can depend on the type of grass in school -- rough, amenity or ornamental.

The real lottery, 6 and 7

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