Tomorrow (Sunday 1 April), the new National Funding Formula for schools comes into effect.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, comments:
“With the implementation of the National Funding Formula we are making progress on a more equitable system. But it’s not perfect. We still need more transparency. And we desperately need the government to recognise that overall funding for schools is insufficient.
“The benefit to the new formula is that it will calculate what each school should get based on its individual characteristics and needs. Unfortunately, for now, money will still go to the local authority, who will then determine how to allocate it according to their own criteria – the so called ‘soft formula’.
“This is very disappointing, and is where things start to fall apart. The national equity and transparency intended by the formula could be diluted and undermined by 152 local authority variations.
“Some schools will not see the minimum funding promised of £3300 for a primary school place or £4600 for a secondary one, and some will see their funding cut compared to last year rather than getting the minimum 0.5% increase allocated by government.
“To their credit the government have indicated their intention to move to a ‘hard formula’ going directly to schools from 2020, but there’s a lot that could happen before then and schools urgently need guarantees. It is totally unrealistic to ask school leaders to plan efficiently and effectively for the long term if they have no information about what will happen in as little as two years’ time.
“School funding is still in crisis, reeling from the real terms cuts estimated at 8.8% since April 2015. All schools need significant increases in funding. And as they fail to materialise, some school leaders could believe that the formula is the problem. The formula can create more transparency and consistency in how the education budget is allocated, but it can’t make up for the fact that the education budget is just not keeping up with massive increases in costs.
“At a time of funding crisis it’s even more important that the scarce resources are allocated to meet the greatest need. At a national level the formula achieves this. The problem is that this gets lost in translation at a local authority level.
“Overall we will have a system that might be a bit fairer, but still won’t be transparent or sufficient enough to meet rising costs and growing needs.”
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