Campaign group f40, which represents the local authorities with the poorest funded schools in England, will this week hold a major conference on the government’s doorstep.
The group’s conference on a new national funding formula will be staged in the Palace of Westminster on Thursday 6 February. Over 120 delegates, including around 30 MPs, from poorly funded areas across the country will be gathering to discuss the anticipated plans for a fairer system which would see the poorest schools getting a better deal.
The promise of a long-awaited national funding formula, to replace the existing discredited arrangements, was made by Education Secretary Michael Gove twelve months ago and reaffirmed by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in his Spending Review speech last summer.
F40 had expected an announcement for a three month consultation on the new proposals would have been launched before Christmas or early in the New Year, but what are understood to be inter-departmental differences of opinion and on-going discussion has held up progress. Despite this delay, f40 has been promised that an announcement is imminent and that the government still intends to have a new formula in place for 2015-16.
Councillor Ivan Ould, the chair of the group and Lead Member for Children and Young People’s Services at poorly funded Leicestershire County Council, said: “The Coalition Government is the first administration in the past 20 years to even acknowledge that the existing formula is unfair and inequitable, so we are prepared to put up with a few weeks’ delay in getting an announcement of the consultation.
“We organised our conference for this Thursday on the understanding that we would now be well into the consultation and our members would be busy preparing their responses. The delay means that we will not be talking about the actual wording of the new proposals, but we will none-the-less hear from Susan Acland-Hood, Director of Education Funding at the Department for Education about the government’s intentions.
“The changes to the system that we anticipate will be made will mark a huge step forward for our campaign for fair funding. The fact is that pupils and schools in f40 local authority areas have been dis-advantaged by an archaic system for nearly twenty years: they have been the poor relations in terms of the share of education funding. We can now look forward to a time when the injustice will end”.