Campaign group f40 today gave an enthusiastic welcome to the Association of School & College Leaders’ (ASCL) view that school funding system is “inadequate”, a “postcode lottery” and a “grant system that does not work”.
F40, which represents the local authorities with the poorest funded schools in England, pointed out that the ASCL’s analysis mirrored its own findings that the funding arrangement is unfit for purpose and in need of urgent change.
Chair, Ivan Ould, who is also Lead Member for Children’s Services in Leicestershire, said: “The poorest funded authorities have often thought they were alone in recognising the deficiencies inherent in an historically outdated funding system that in grossly unfair to schools in many areas.
“The existing funding model has no rationale and is clearly unfair. Mainstream school funding has become more and more of a ‘mess’ with a tangle of funding caught up in the Minimum Funding Guarantee and capping.
“The inconsistencies in funding for individual schools with similar characteristics across the country are too great. A national funding formula allocating the same funding for all mainstream pupils nationally would resolve the problem of a child attracting very different levels of funding if they attend a school on one side of a local authority boundary rather than another.”
F40 has been proactive in developing a solution to the problem of unfair funding. It wants a new national funding framework introduced from 2016-17 and it has presented proposals to the government based on the following key principles and features:
- A national formula for distributing the schools budget based on a clear rationale: from 2016-17 education funding to be geared towards improving educational standards across the country rather than perpetuating an inequitable distribution of the national budget.
- Core entitlement at a pupil level as the main building block. This would enable a school to have access to similar resource levels for a child’s basic classroom costs i.e. the share of a teacher and teaching assistant. The core entitlement will reflect different needs and costs at the various Key Stages.
- Factors to reflect pupil level needs beyond the core entitlement (e.g. deprivation and high incidence SEN) and factors to reflect the needs of small schools that are necessary in a local authority’s structure.
- The existing DSG structure would continue, with blocks for Schools, Early Years and High Needs, with each element based on a proper formula. Local authorities, with the advice of the local Schools Forum, would be free to move funding between the three blocks.
Ivan Ould added: “f40 has welcomed extra funding of £390m for 2015-16, which will see most of f40’s member authorities gaining, but that is just a down-payment, a first step towards a new and fairer allocation system. We now need to move quickly to a fairer allocations arrangement along the lines of the proposals we have recently presented to the Department for Education.
“Whichever political party is successful in May’s election, f40 will expect an immediate commitment to fairer school funding and a new formula-based approach introduced from 2016-17, phased in over a three year period.”