Minimum per-pupil funding law welcome, but financial challenges remain

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

While welcoming the news that minimum per-pupil funding levels are to be enshrined in law, school leaders have warned that this will not end the funding crisis.

The Department for Education (DfE) has published final details of the main changes to the National Funding Formula for 2020/21, including the stipulation that local authorities must provide schools with at least £5,000 per secondary pupil and £3,750 per primary pupil next year.

It comes amid increases to funding which will see the national schools budget receive £2.6 billion more in 2020/21, a further £2.2 billion in 2021/22, and an additional £2.3 billion in 2022/23.

However, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, remains cautious: “It is great that minimum funding levels are being enshrined in legislation, but this is to do with a historic inequity in the way that school funding is distributed and not the fact that there is not enough money going into the system in the first place.

“Despite the promises that the government will reverse the cuts, the fact is that the money allocated to education over the next three years will not achieve this objective, particularly as the government expects this pot of money to also fund its proposal to increase the starting pay of teachers to £30,000.

“The reality is that the financial situation for schools and colleges will continue to be extremely challenging and the funding crisis is not over.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that school spending per-pupil since 2009 has fallen by eight per cent in real terms and that the new money “should be near enough sufficient to reverse these cuts by 2022/23”. But this still means that schools will have effectively faced a 13-year funding freeze in school spending per-pupil.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Simplistic formulas may look attractive in an election campaign but the profession knows that school funding is a complex matter. There will be winners and losers.”


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