Government’s new funding formula for schools

The UK government’s new funding policy for schools has its share of critics. Of course, this is only to be expected, as there are always winners and losers when criteria for funding change. In an attempt to make funding more equitable across the country, areas such as London and other urban centres will receive less than they did in the past. Schools outside these areas which were traditionally well funded will benefit however. The education secretary was keen to allay the fears of London schools, explaining that they will continue to be well funded.

11,000 schools will benefit from the new funding formula, with 3,400 of them receiving an increase of 5 per cent. On the other hand, 9,000 schools will have funding cuts. Over 100 local authorities will benefit from the government’s new funding formula. In contrast 50 local authorities will have funding cuts. The East Midlands will be one of the local authorities that benefits, while London will have the most cuts.

Manchester, Nottingham, Liverpool and Birmingham will have more funding than before under the new funding formula. These cities will be the receive the most funding in England apart from London, that is.

The teachers’ unions warn that the new formula will mean increased class sizes, teacher job losses and also make it more difficult to recruit quality teachers. It is possible that pupils will not be offered a great choice of subjects and there will be less money for IT upgrades. Classroom and school maintenance could also be badly affected.

If there is no increased funding for schools, the formula will be of little use ultimately, although it will mean that there is less disparity between the traditional ‘haves and have-nots.’ However, a lack of investment in the education system will eventually take its toll.

There will now (from December 2016) be a 14-month consultation period before the new measures begin to be implemented in 2018 – 2019.  The funding will be allocated to local authorities to be distributed for the first 2 years, and then it will be given to schools directly from 2019-20.

The academies and maintained schools probably stand to gain most from the new formula. There will be a £140 million ‘Strategic School Improvement Fund’ for these educational establishments. There will also be a £50 million a year fund for local authorities to monitor performance at under-achieving maintained schools. It is hoped that this will mean improved standards.

As well as these initiatives, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has pledged to spend another £20 million over the next 2 years to increase and publicise evidence-based programmes and approaches.

Apart from the new funding formula, there are several initiatives aimed at improving standards. These include a £60 million investment to pilot a series of Opportunity Areas across the country, which will seek to improve the life-chances of young people; a £41 million maths mastery programme aimed at the primary sector and a teaching and leadership innovation fund which will be worth £75 million over 3 years.

We shall have to wait to see if these new initiatives improve our education system and out pupils performances.

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