STATE schools in England are facing an overall budget cut, an education research group has found.
As many as half the primary and secondary schools will lose between six and 11 per cent of funding per pupil by 2019-20, under the Government’s new funding formula, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) says.
Its report, The Implications of the National Funding Formula for Schools, published last Friday, says that the most deprived schools in the country (those with more than 30 per cent of pupils on free school meals) are to benefit from a small net gain of £5.6 million. But averaged over all schools, it says, this would amount to an average loss of £74,000 per primary school, and £291,000 per secondary school, equating to a loss, on average, of almost two primary teachers and six secondary teachers.
The most disadvantaged schools in London are expected to have an overall loss of about £16.1 million by 2020, although the distribution of per pupil funding in the UK is currently highest in the city (£5284, compared with £4223 in the south-east), the report says.
The chief executive of the London Diocesan Board for Schools, Inigo Woolf, said on Tuesday that 80 per cent of the 156 church schools in the diocese would lose out. “Most of our schools in inner London, where there is a high concentration of disadvantaged children, see a reduction in funding,” he said, “but there are a small number of schools in the City of Westminster which benefit from the redistribution of funding on area deprivation.”
Those schools where fewer than 30 per cent of pupils are entitled to free school meals are to receive an additional £275 million overall, EPI suggests; and schools in the least deprived areas (as measured by the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index) are to experience the highest relative gains.
But, in urban settings, even these would be affected, Mr Woolf warned. “Our schools in the least deprived areas will suffer from the reduction in the lump sum given to all schools, coupled with a reduction in the base amount of funding per pupils, as more funding is transferred to schools which serve catchment areas where children have English as an additional language, or low prior attainment.”
The EPI states that the worst performing schools are set to gain £78.5 million more than the top performing schools, overall. This is particularly acute in London, it says, where it found a net loss to the highest performing primary schools of about £16.6 million, overall.
Mr Woolf says: “For our one-form-entry primary schools, where the lump sum is being reduced by 65 per cent, there is going to be real pain and a threat to their viability. This highlights one of the weaknesses of a funding formula where the major part of funding is on a per-pupil basis, and insufficient funding is allocated to the fixed costs of keeping a school open.”
In Manchester, the head teacher of the C of E School of the Resurrection, Lynnette Windslow, said that data from the website schoolcuts.org.uk suggests that they are facing cuts of £511 per pupil — more than £100 above the average predicted for primary schools. “Obviously, this is a huge amount to lose, and will have a major impact on our school,” she said. “We have 255 pupils.”
Small schools (officially fewer than 210 pupils) in less populated rural areas will also be affected (News, 17 February). The C of E is responsible for more than half of the 4146 small rural schools in the country, many of which are supported by local authorities which regard themselves as underfunded.
The C of E’s chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that “In practice, the effect of the redistribution of funds may be causing some odd inconsistencies between areas, added to which schools are still left with major challenges caused by increasing costs. We hope the Government will pay close attention to the detail of the responses to the consultation, and consider further adjustments.”
The Department for Education introduced the second stage of the proposed new National Funding Formula in December. It set out to allocate pupil funding to local authorities for two years before distributing it directly to schools by 2019, with a minimum guarantee of funding. A public consultation on the proposals closed on Wednesday. The formula comes in next month.
The EPI report concluded that the Government was right to proceed, and that it had “resisted pressure to skew funding significantly towards the lowest funded areas, which might have been politically convenient, but which would have shifted significant amounts of money away from disadvantaged areas, where attainment gaps are large”.