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School funding must be sufficient as well as fair, say NAHT

Commenting on the announcement of a new national funding formula for schools, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “NAHT have long campaigned for a fairer national distribution of school funding, and the new formula is a step in the right direction towards this. But it will only work for pupils if there are sufficient funds in the first place.

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that school spending per pupil is likely to fall by around 8% in real terms by 2019-20, the first drop since the mid-1990s. Today’s National Audit Office report sets out that mainstream schools are expected to find £3 billion in savings by 2019-20, echoing our own recent survey in which 69% of school leaders stated that they believe that their deficits will be untenable by 2020.

"School funding is not sufficient. A change in how funding is distributed is important but it will not solve this fundamental lack of investment. We look forward to engaging with the detail of the formula, and we certainly welcome some aspects of the new design, but we also need to see greater money coming in to education in the first place."

James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge, said: “It is good to see that the DfE has listened to us in making sure that there is more protection for our most vulnerable pupils with special educational needs, with a slower pace of change for the high needs funding that supports such pupils, and security of place funding for specialist units within mainstream settings.

“However, the overall picture is less positive. Yes, a funding formula will distribute funding more fairly, but without an assurance that funding will increase, school budgets will continue to be pushed beyond breaking point.”