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Introduction of national funding formula for schools pushed back to 2018/19

Justine Greening announces that final decisions on new fairer funding system for schools and higher needs will now be taken 'early in the new year'

  • Introduction of national funding formula for schools pushed back to 2018/19

Education secretary Justine Greening has announced that the government remains committed to introducing a new system of funding schools, high needs and early years, but that it will now do so in 2018/19, rather than 2017/18 as had been originally planned.

Government plans to replace the existing system of school funding with a national model based more on need, rather than historical allocations was among the key proposals set out in the Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper published in March this year. The first of two planned consultations was concluded in April, with the government’s response and proposals for the second stage consultation due to be published in autumn.

In a written ministerial statement, Greening notes that the first stage consultation has been, “Met with an overwhelmingly positive response from headteachers, teachers, governors and parents. There is also a strong sense in the response to the first stage of the consultation that this is a once in a generation opportunity for an historic change and that we must get our approach right…

“Given the importance of consulting widely and fully with the sector and getting implementation right, the new system will apply from 2018 to 2019. I will set out our full plans for a national funding formula for early years shortly.”

The statement goes on to explain that local authorities will see no reductions in the 2017/18 funding in the schools block of their dedicated schools grant (DSG), or their high needs block cash amounts when compared with 2016/17. Final funding allocations for schools and high needs blocks are now set to be announced in December, based on the pupil number findings of this year’s autumn term school census.

In the meantime, the Education Funding Agency has made available the 2016/17 DSG baselines and 2017/18 funding tables, further details of which can be found here.

The profession responds

Julia Harnden – Funding Specialist, Association of School and College Leaders
“While we understand the government’s reasons for delaying the introduction of a new funding formula, we are extremely disappointed that no interim support has been put in place for the lowest-funded schools in the lowest-funded areas. The financial situation in these schools is already critical because of huge increased cost pressures and the delay in the introduction of the new funding formula is potentially catastrophic.

“Additional financial support must be put in in place for 2017/18 for these schools and the government has to understand the urgency of this situation. Through no fault of their own, and despite exemplary leadership, some schools are in danger of financial collapse.”

Chris Keates – General Secretary, NASUWT
“The Secretary of State is right to postpone the launch of this important consultation, given that no specific proposals have been presented to date and also given that schools are now closing for the summer period. The statement from the Education Secretary recognises that plans for a major reform to the system for distributing funding to schools and academies has already provoked anxiety and uncertainty for schools at a time when school budgets are already under considerable pressure.

“The Minister’s statement that she will be bringing forward proposals in the autumn should provide some reassurance to school leaders, teachers and governors who have been increasingly concerned about the prospect of a rushed programme of reform without access to any of the detail, and with limited consultation regarding the specific changes to be proposed.

“The Government must now come forward with proposals that will deliver additional investment for all schools and which will bring an end to the real terms cuts to school budgets witnessed since 2010.

Kevin Courtney – General secretary, National Union of Teachers
“Justine Greening’s announcement on school funding provides no new money and ignores the real problems facing schools. The IFS has said that schools are suffering the worst cuts since the 1970s. What that means for children and young people is an increase in class sizes, subjects being dropped from the curriculum, fewer books and resources, cuts to school trips and a rise in the number of pupils taught by unqualified teachers.

“A joint statement from leading education organisations representing the majority of teachers and leadership groups spoke of the fear for children’s education unless funding was addressed as a matter of urgency. The Education Secretary’s announcement does nothing to allay these fears.”

Russell Hobby – General secretary, NAHT
“School budgets are being pushed to breaking point, so today’s announcement of a further delay will disappoint many school leaders. We know from the IFS analysis that budgets will see a real terms cut of 8% between now and 2020; flat budgets are not taking account of rising costs, regardless of the distribution of funding.

“However, it is too late now to introduce changes for 2017/18, so today’s announcement is not unexpected or unwise. Schools need certainly above all else, and today’s news that the formula will not begin until 2018/19 at least provides a little clarity on when the funding system will be reformed.

“We welcome the announcement that for 2017-18, the current minimum funding guarantee for schools will be retained but we need more money rather than a guarantee that we won’t lose a lot. We would press the government to ensure that the most poorly funded schools actually receive more during this transition period.”

Cllr. Richard Watts – Vice-chair, Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board
“Given the delayed response to the second stage consultation on fairer funding, the government is right to postpone the introduction of the new national funding formula. Providing appropriate and adequate teaching and support for pupils – whether in a primary of 50 pupils or a secondary of 2000 – is a complex process that takes time and careful planning. Leaving schools with only a year to potentially make some major changes would have been a cause for serious concern.

“Councils will still have a major role to play in distributing early years funding and supporting high needs students, so will need to continue conversations with schools to make sure that’s done effectively. It therefore makes sense that funding is issued to councils in line with a fair, central formula, with the final decision on each school’s allocation made locally, in collaboration with schools themselves to best meet local needs.”

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