F40, the group campaigning for fairer school funding on behalf of the country’s lowest funded local authorities, will tell the Secretary of State for Education that he has failed pupils and schools by not acting sooner to introduce a fairer funding allocation system.
In a Written Statement to Parliament today, Secretary of State Michael Gove responded to last year’s School Funding consultation which had sought to find a fairer way of allocating education funding among the country’s 150 education authorities.
Whilst accepting f40’s arguments about the inequity of the existing discredited allocation system, Mr Gove ‘bottled out’ when it came to providing an immediate solution…or even one that might be introduced over a few years.
Instead, the government has said that it will tinker with the system in 2013-14 but put off any consideration of a fairer, simpler and more transparent arrangement until after the next election in 2015.
“This is totally unacceptable to the f40 authorities, the worst funded of all those who have responsibilities for education in England”, said f40 Chair Cllr Ivan Ould. “Mr Gove and his government have made it clear that they accept that the present system is unfair, so to put off meaningful change for a further three years – but probably many more – is just plain wrong.”
“This government is the first in nearly 20 years to acknowledge the unfairness of the allocation system and we had faith in it to do the right thing, but are devastated that it is now failing the pupils, teachers and schools in the poorest funded areas.
“We will make this perfectly clear to him when we meet him at the Department for Education in London this Wednesday, 28 March. At that meeting, I will be pressing for an increase for the lowest funded local authorities over the remaining life of this parliament. Even if only 0.25% had been offered immediately and again in the next few years, that would have been a start to narrow the disparity gap.”
The government concluded a massive consultation last October and for the past few months has been weighing up ways of getting rid of the existing flawed system in favour of a funding arrangement that is fairer, clearer and more transparent.
F40 and the poorest funded authorities have suffered years of unfair funding, and it is adamant that a quick transition is needed, or at the very least a year on year change.
Councillor Ould, who is also Lead Member for Children’s Services at Leicestershire County Council, the lowest funded of all 150 authorities with education responsibilities, added: “F40 has been pushing for over 16 years for a fairer funding formula to remove some of the discrepancies in funding between different and sometimes neighbouring areas. It is now looking as though our fight will be extended to at least 20 years!
“This government, in its Education White Paper published last year, acknowledged that the formula is flawed and in need of reform, and subsequently launched its comprehensive consultation on a new formula.
There are many wide discrepancies that exist between neighbouring areas, such as the gap of over £1000 per pupil between schools in Worcestershire and in neighbouring Birmingham and the gap of over £860 between schools in Leicestershire and those in Leicester.
The difference in funding between these and many other authorities is too great and because the system is flawed and discredited, the gap between them has increased year on year for nearly twenty years. That situation cannot be allowed to continue any longer than is absolutely necessary.
F40 appreciates that the government needs to limit the impact of any turbulence that a change in the funding formula will create, but it is adamant that the nettle must be grasped and not delayed for political reasons.