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Education in the media: 24 October 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Myth busting, School spending, Trade Unions

Today's Education in the Media blog looks at misleading claims being made about school funding.

School funding

In September, the Secretary of State announced the details of a new National Funding Formula (NFF). This new fairer funding system for schools in England replaces the current and historic postcode lottery that saw huge differences in funding between schools in different parts of the country.

The NFF means that for the first time, school funding will be distributed based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country.

Today, Tuesday 24 October, trade unions will be staging a demonstration in Whitehall. This is part of a wider campaign by the NEU about what it claims are cuts to school funding. This has been covered by the Today Programme who interviewed Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner and Good Morning Britain who spoke to Education Select Committee Chair Robert Halfon who highlighted the government is spending more money on schools than ever before.

The claims made by the unions are totally misleading. With the additional £1.3 billion investment that the Secretary of State announced in July, the NFF provides for a cash increase of at least 1 per cent per pupil by 2019/20 for every school, compared to its baseline. Under the formula, no school will lose funding, and under-funded schools will see significant gains of up to 3 per cent per pupil in 2018/19 and a further 3 per cent per pupil in 2019/20.

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has confirmed that our additional investment means that across the country the total schools budget will now be maintained in real terms per pupil through to 2019-20 – at least 70 per cent higher in real terms than it was in 1990.

We have also protected the high needs budget in real terms per pupil for the next two years.

As a result of the extra funding, core funding for schools and high needs will rise from almost £41 billion in 2017/18 to £42.4 billion in 2018/19, and £43.5 billion in 2019/20.

The DfE recognises the importance of reform to school funding and the need for consistency around the country and the NFF is crucial to this.

Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb:

The fact is that under this government, there are 1.8million more children being taught in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. The claims being made by the trade union about school funding are fundamentally misleading. There are no cuts in funding – every school will see an increase in funding through the formula from 2018.  The figures the trade union are peddling are based on historical data and do not reflect the situation in our schools today. They also ignore the fact that schools’ funding is driven by pupil numbers and, as pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will also increase.

As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed, overall schools funding is being protected at a national level in real terms per pupil over the next two years. At the same time, our historic reform of the school funding system – backed by an additional £1.3bn of extra funding – will replace the current post-code lottery which has created hugely unfair differences in funding between similar schools in different parts of the country.

Our new formula will allocate a cash increase of at least 1 per cent per pupil to every school by 2019-20, with much higher gains for underfunded schools.

Please see here for the Secretary of State’s full statement on the national funding formula.

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