f40 in positive mood after meeting with Secretary of State

F40, the group campaigning for fairer school funding on behalf of the country’s lowest funded local authorities, came away from a meeting with the Secretary of State for Education feeling moderately positive.

Before the meeting, the group had suggested that Michael Gove had failed pupils and schools by not acting sooner to introduce a fairer funding allocation system.

But after the 45 minute meeting on Wednesday afternoon, f40 Chair, Cllr Ivan Ould said: “We had a positive meeting and came away feeling that there may be scope to improve the position of the lowest funded local authorities in the short-term.

Earlier this week, the Secretary of State announced the outcome of a three-month 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 failed to provide an immediate solution, stating that no funding change would happen until after the next election in 2015. They appeared to accept fully the need for change but were not prepared to rectify the injustice

”We went to the meeting feeling very aggrieved about the government’s announcement”, said Cllr Ould. “We put it to the Secretary of State that it was regrettable that he had not seen fit to offer some remedy to ease the position of the poorest authorities. We suggested a small percentage increase, perhaps as low as 0.25 or 0.5%, per annum over the remaining years of this parliament.

The Secretary of State invited the f40 to undertake some financial modelling to show the cost implications of a range of potential solutions, and the group undertook to get the figures to him by next week.

At the meeting, f40 members also raised a range of other issues including the possibility of the government increasing capital expenditure in the poorest funded local authorities; examining the impact of funding cuts on school transport, particularly in rural areas; and the difficulties many local authorities are facing dealing with Special Education Needs (SEN).

On behalf of the group, Cllr Ould gave the Secretary of State an assurance that f40 would continue to work closely with the government to find a longer term solution for school funding.