On Monday (17 July 2017) the government announced its latest thinking on school funding, promising an extra £1.3bn over two years and an ongoing commitment to a new national funding formula from April 2018, as well as a new formula for high needs funding. NAHT feels that while the extra funding is a step in the right direction, it’s a long way from the minimum of £2 billion a year needed to protect budgets.
It was also confirmed this week that the national funding formula will go ahead from April 2018 - something NAHT has been campaigning for over a number of years. We welcome the commitment to a national funding formula for schools and for pupils with high needs. Unfortunately, this has become a casualty of Brexit because the lack of legislative time means that, for now, the DfE cannot bring in new legislation to ensure the funding goes straight to schools.
It will be worked out at a school level by the DfE, based on the characteristics of the pupils in each school, but then will be handed to local authorities to determine how much each school gets based on their own local formula, also impacting on academies as it does currently. This could also undermine the Conservative's manifesto promise that no school will lose out in cash per pupil terms under the national funding formula. While the DfE will provide enough funding so all schools should be 0.5% better off, local authorities' decisions may mean that some schools do not see this increase. A priority for NAHT and NAHT Edge will, therefore, be to continue to press the DfE for a formula that gets the funding directly to schools.
The Secretary of State also confirmed that high needs funding will be uplifted, so all local authorities will receive at least 0.5% more funding, with some receiving up to 3% as originally set out in the high needs formula proposals. And there’s also a doubling of the primary sports premium.
Reacting to the news, Paul Whiteman, general secretary designate of NAHT said: “NAHT has been campaigning for several months to press the government to fund education fully and fairly. It’s clear that the Department for Education has listened to these concerns and is doing its bit to address the funding gap. However, the Treasury is not backing this up with new, additional funding. As we know, efficiency savings can only go so far in addressing the fact there is not enough money in the system.
“We look forward to hearing more detail on the funding formula. This statement offers many more questions than answers. This is a step in the right direction, but there is a long way to go to ensure all schools get the funding they need.”
James Bowen, director of NAHT Edge, is heartened that Justine Greening understands the funding pressures facing schools. “However, based on the figures presented and the lack of additional investment from the Treasury, it would appear that this will, at best, only partially alleviate rather than solve the problem for schools."
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