National Funding Formula: Radical changes in the offing

2 Jan

The government is set to introduce a new national funding formula by April 2015 which will be very much a curate’s egg, good in parts but diabolical in its effects on some schools.

Historically, inner-city areas – mainly in Labour-leaning parts – have been extremely favourably funded when compared to those in the shire counties, especially those that contain pockets of the well-heeled parts of society from where many Conservative MPs are elected.  The aim is to shift funding from the former to the latter sections of the country.

Altogether £35 billion are spent on our schools. This funding has been frozen since 2010.   After the 13 years of plenty, this is painful.  However, it could have been much worse as, along with the NHS, education spending has been protected and spared the detriment other areas – such as Defence and Works and Pension – have had to endure.

When the present coalition came into power, Michael Gove, secretary of state, made an attempt to introduce a national funding formula, which was to be equitable, especially when he learnt that a typical rural secondary school receives £4,200 per pupil  annually while an Inner London one might secure anything up to £9,500. The difference between a rural and inner-city primary school can be as much as £3,000 (i.e. rural – £3,000 and inner-city – £6,000).

However, without an injection of extra resources, the change is bound to cause suffering, especially in the inner-city areas.  This is the reason why Gove and the Deputy Primary Minister, Nick Clegg, are submitting earnest pleas to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Chancellor, George Osborne, to sanction a big rise in spending on schools to soften the blow on the putative losers.

A Whitehall source told The Times, “We are very conscious that we want to do this very, very carefully and minimise disruption.”  We will know for certain only much later this year (i.e. 2014) whether Gove will have his wishes granted.

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