Underprivileged schools in England ‘get less money after funding overhaul’ | Schools

Ministers are urged to halt their education funding reforms after it emerged that they resulted in less money for the poorest schools and more for the better off, according to a parliamentary report.

The redistribution follows the introduction of the government’s National Funding Formula in 2018-19 to make the funding of schools in England more fair and transparent.

According to the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the changes – which are not yet complete – resulted in a 1.2% drop in per-student funding in real terms in the fifth of the most disadvantaged schools and an increase of 2.9% for the least deprived, despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to “level up”.

The government is consulting on the latest step in its school funding changes and on a move to a “hard” national funding formula whereby it would set school budgets directly instead of involving local authorities.

Before moving forward with its reforms, the report calls on the government to assess the likely impact of further changes in individual schools and different types of schools. He also points out that changes to the funding of bonuses for the most disadvantaged pupils have cost schools an additional £ 90million in funding.

Kevin Courtney, deputy secretary general of the National Education Union (NEU), accused the government of doing the opposite of leveling up. He said: “Despite all its rhetoric, the actual practice of the Conservative government seems to channel money from the poorest to the better off.”

The PAC report paints a grim picture of the delays, uncertainty and inaction of the Department of Education. He accuses the DfE of “dragging its feet” on improvements to services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send). The government’s Send magazine was announced two years ago but no publication date is yet in sight.

He says ministers have also not been able to confirm when their promise of a £ 30,000 starting salary for teachers will be introduced and PAC fears that the DfE has no control over the impact. declining enrollment in school budgets.

“Schools face a perfect storm of challenges with promises of teacher salary increases, per pupil funding changes and declining enrollment, but no clear plan from the education ministry,” the president said. from the PAC, Dame Meg Hillier.

“Schools and students in inner city areas are hit hardest by the funding formula at a time when the government’s commitment is to step up a gear. Add to this the persistent delays in overhauling support for students with special educational needs and disabilities and some of the most vulnerable children face an uncertain future – in addition to the impact of Covid. “

She added: “Every part of the government has faced challenges, but the impact of exam chaos, funding uncertainties and repeatedly delayed decisions hits young people hard and threatens their chances in life. . “

Geoff Barton, Secretary General of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The government’s apparent lack of concern and priority for our most vulnerable youth is, frankly, just outrageous.

Nick Brook, deputy secretary general of the National Association of Principals, added: “If the government is to achieve its stated goal of ‘leveling up’, it must carefully consider the impact of its reforms.

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “The national funding formula replaced an unfair, inconsistent and outdated system where schools and similar local areas received very different levels of funding, with little or no justification. The funding system now ensures that resources are delivered where they are needed most. “

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