Winners and losers in primary and secondary

The Government commitment to fairer funding for every pupil would have to face up to differences in primary and secondary funding. Some of the regional differences are the result of decisions authorities have taken about the relative funding of each- a discretion they could lose.

This is already apparent in the common funding formula for grant- maintained schools. This year it requires the different sums available in each authority to be divided according to a ratio of Pounds 1 per primary pupil for every Pounds 1.35 per secondary pupil.

This is not an estimate of the relative needs of primary and secondary, but is simply the average of primary and secondary pupil funding throughout the country; a pointer perhaps to the broader-brush approach authorities will be expected to adopt in revising their own funding formulas.

The primary:secondary differential in most authorities falls within 5 per cent of this average, though even a 1 per cent disparity could amount to Pounds 16-Pounds 20 per pupil. In 22 English authorities, however, primary-pupil funding would have to be increased by more than 5 per cent - and secondary reduced proportionately - if such a ratio were applied, promising windfalls of Pounds 75-Pounds 300 per primary pupil or Pounds 15,000 to Pounds 60,000 for a 200-pupil primary.

By the same token, a 1,000-pupil secondary in such authorities could lose Pounds 100,000 to Pounds 400,000 and have to face up to massive teacher redundancies, though the White Paper says "we must avoid unneccessary disruption to the education of pupils".

In 1996-97, authorities funding secondary pupils by more than 5 per cent above the national average of Pounds 1.35 for every Pounds 1 per primary pupil included Bexley (Pounds 1.43); Havering (Pounds 1.50); Kingston-upon-Thames (1.57); Newham (Pounds 1.50); Redbridge (Pounds 1.48); Sutton (Pounds 1. 51); Manchester (Pounds 1.49); Rochdale (Pounds 1.41); Sefton (Pounds 1.45); Wirral (Pounds 1.46); Doncaster (Pounds 1.44); Wakefield (Pounds 1.42); Middlesbrough (Pounds 1.61); Redcar and Cleveland (Pounds 1.61); Stockton on Tees (Pounds 1.54); York (Pounds 1.43); Cumbria (Pounds 1.48); Derbyshire (Pounds 1. 44); Kent (Pounds 1.42); Lincolnshire (Pounds 1.44); Norfolk (Pounds 1.48); Shropshire (Pounds 1.49).

At least 11 authorities funded secondary in 1996-97 at 5 per cent or more below the national average. They would have to increase spending on secondaries at the expense of primaries if they were required to achieve the national average. They include Lambeth (Pounds 1.25); Wandsworth (Pounds 1.24); Westminster (Pounds 1.19); Merton (Pounds 1.23); Bradford (Pounds 1.21); East Riding of Yorkshire (Pounds 1.20); North Lincolnshire (Pounds 1.11); Northumberland (Pounds 1.21); Suffolk (Pounds 1.26); Surrey (Pounds 1.19); Warwickshire (Pounds 1.23).

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