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Steps taken towards fairer school funding formula

Government proposes a national funding formula for consistency across UK schools

Posted by Stephanie Broad | March 11, 2016 | Law, finance, HR

Under proposals published for consultation, the government has started the process of introducing a national funding formula from 2017 to 2018. This represents an important move towards a system where school funding is allocated on a consistent national formula.

The consultation identifies three priorities:

  • Allocating funding fairly and straight to the frontline
  • Matching funding to need so that the higher the need, the greater the funding
  • Ensuring the transition to a reformed system is manageable 

As part of this, local authorities will receive funding to help with their responsibilities towards young people with high-level special educational needs on a fair and formulaic basis, so that no pupil is disadvantaged because of where they live. 

Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said: “The introduction of a national funding formula from 2017 to 2018 will see the biggest step towards fairer funding in over a decade - ensuring that pupils get funding that genuinely matches their need. It will also ensure that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds continue to receive significant additional funding to overcome entrenched barriers to their success. 

“This is a key part of our core mission to extend opportunity to all children and provide educational excellence in all parts of the country: rural and urban, shire and metropolitan, north and south.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “Reform of the funding formula is necessary and we have been working towards this for some time. We welcome the recognition in the consultation of school-level costs, particularly for small rural schools, and area-specific costs, such as a higher cost of living.'

Mr Hobby says that a funding formula must not be used to hide overall cuts. “The total amount coming into the system must be sufficient before it can be distributed fairly; cuts are false economies,” he continued. 

“The government has also announced a separate consultation on high needs funding reform and how the formula should be phased in, to avoid disrupting the education of children and young people with SEN and disabilities. This news will be particularly welcome to our many members who lead schools that serve children with special educational needs.”

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