F40 – the group that has fought for fair funding for schools in England for over two decades – has published a Briefing Paper outlining its current position in relation to the national funding formula for schools.
Following the introduction of the government’s new national funding formula (NFF) in April, f40 has reviewed its position and agreed the main elements of future campaigning aimed at achieving further improvements to the formula.
“F40 welcomed the government’s commitment via the NFF to a fairer system for allocating school funding, and the extra £1.3billion made available for schools between 2018-20,” said Ivan Ould, who chairs the group and is also Lead Member for Children and Families at Leicestershire County Council.
“But f40 has fundamental concerns about the NFF and believes it has failed to deliver the level of fairness of funding allocation that is required and there is unanimous recognition within our membership that there is still more work to do to tackle remaining locked-in inequalities.
“Implementation of the NFF has clearly had more to do with stability and the protection of schools against loss, rather than creating a fairer funding system across all schools and local authorities. We contend that an additional “F” is required to create a new NFFF – a National Fair Funding Formula.
“In essence the government failed to effectively deal with the core problems associated with the fair funding of our schools. Therefore, the job isn’t finished and f40 has no choice but to continue to campaign for further change to assist our schools with very low levels of funding.”
In summary, f40 will be campaigning for:
- A significant increase in the amount invested in education funding to meet the cost pressures facing all schools (f40 is awaiting access to Department of Education datasets in order to be able to calculate the shortfall).
- An index-linked activity led formula which can be used for ensuring sufficient funding in the system and to define what the proportion for additional educational needs should be and can be used to support policy changes in the system to enable schools to meet post-Brexit needs.
- One National Funding Formula (NFF) without the need for Minimum Funding Levels (MFL) and long-term locked in protections. If the MFL is to stay, then it should take account of the additional educational needs (AEN) of schools and be fairly applied to support the different levels of AEN.
- Continued flexibility to move funding to support specific local issues or organisational requirements.
- The setting out of plans for the funding formula from 2020 onwards. Schools need to know whether there will be sufficient funding in the education budget to achieve the aims of the formula and when the government will move to a system of direct funding to schools rather than via local authorities.
- The establishment of rolling three to four-year budget settlements for schools which are inflation-proofed and include funding for cost-of-living increases.
- Appropriate quantum of funding for the high needs block (which should be index-linked). This needs to take into account the increasing demands of higher needs as medical improvements take place. It also needs to retrospectively support the increase in post-19 demand for education.
- An increase in capital funding to meet the additional demand for local specialist places at an affordable price.
- Promotion of inclusive behaviours in schools, to stop schools passing a problem on.This would include national support for making cultural change, with change to legislation where necessary.
- A review of the early years national formula to make it fit for future use.
- Appropriate quantum of funding for early years providers to take account of the pressures of the living wage and the impact of 30 hours.
Central Schools Services Block
- Clarity on the way that the block will work and be increased in future.