Schoolzone blog:School funding angst... anger?

School funding angst... anger?
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26 Nov 2014

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As we reported earlier this week (in relation to pupil premium funding), schools want a fair funding policy. It doesn't seem much to ask, yet there is still little sign of one. And fair funding becomes even more important when times is 'ard, despite the increase in PP funding, which schools simply think will come from elsewhere in the schools funding - hence even greater unfairness.

The annual ASCL survey of school leaders*, out today, suggests that:

  • Three quarters of school leaders (75%) are unhappy with the government’s funding policy for education - compared to 57% last year.
  • 71% of secondary school leaders have earmarked reducing costs as a major priority over the coming academic year.
  • The vast majority of school leaders (82%) are planning to divert funds from their overall
    budgets to top up their notional SEN budgets.
  • Around one-third (35%) are seriously looking at carrying out a staff restructuring programme

It's also worth noting that, even though most academies were tempted to convert because they would get more cash, the ASCL data shows no differences between LA schools and academies in these findings. However, organisations such as f40 (a campaign run by the least well funded LAs) suggest that academies, being outside LAs' control, should have a separate, national funding model even before fair funding is introduced (if ever).

We're still in the throes of a recession and none of us should expect additional funding any time soon; schools are bound to be feeling the pinch about the amounts, but this is more about the way funds are allocated, not about how much there is to go around.

As the DfE say in Fairer schools funding: Arrangements for 2015 to 2016: "The consultation has confirmed that there is an overwhelming consensus that the allocation of schools funding to local authorities across England is unfair".

By way of example here's how much the best funded regions get per pupil (source):

City of London £8,595
Tower Hamlets £7,014
Hackney £6,680
Lambeth £6,384
Hammersmith and Fulham £6,248

... and the worst:

Stockport £4,206
West Sussex £4,206
South Gloucestershire £4,196
Poole £4,194
Wokingham £4,158

OK - London gets more, we all understand that this is always the way it is ... but twice as much per pupil...?

Plus the regional allocations mask a huge range of local variation, with no "means testing" of schools, so that those with healthy finances aren't rewarded for managing budgets well. Similarly those with their own foundation trusts get as much as those that don't: schoolzone's local grammar has one worth over £2.5 million per year, yet they still get the minimum PP funding, for example.



* There are several major weaknesses in the style of questions used in this survey, which tend to lead responses, however, in general it seems to be there or thereabouts
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