Education secretary’s constituency to lose out in funding changes

Published January 17, 2017 at 10:06

The government’s ‘fair funding’ formula will see 98% of state schools’ funding cut, say unions, with cities worst affected

The education secretary and minister for women and equalities, Justine Greening, who is also MP for Putney, west London. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty Images

Richard Adams Education editor

Monday 16 January 2017 00.01 GMT Last modified on Monday 16 January 2017 00.03 GMT

Schools in education secretary Justine Greening’s constituency will be among thousands across England suffering steep budget cuts despite the government’s new “fair funding” formula, according to analysis released by six unions.

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The unions – including the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers – say the study shows an “extremely bleak” picture of how the new formula will leave schools across England struggling.

The analysis – published online via a campaigning website, schoolcuts.org.uk – suggests that 98% of schools face a real-terms reduction in funding by 2019, with an average loss for each primary pupil of £339 and £477 for every secondary pupil.

In Greening’s constituency of Putney, the analysis of Department for Education data found an average loss of £655 for every pupil by 2019-20, with the worst-hit school seeing a loss of £834 for every pupil in real terms.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said the new funding formula introduced by Greening late last year – which redistributed funds between mainly urban schools and those in more rural areas – has dashed hopes of solving the crisis in school budgets. “Already heads are being forced to cut staff, cut the curriculum and cut specialist support. A new funding formula is the right thing to do but it cannot be truly fair unless there is enough money to go round in the first place,” Hobby said.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, which represents many non-teaching staff working in schools, said: “The funding crisis means overcrowded classrooms, support staff not being replaced and parents having to pay towards the cost of lessons. Children, parents and staff deserve so much better.”

The worst hit schools are those in the London constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark, which are forecast to lose an average of just over £1,000 per pupil.

Even prime minister Theresa May’s constituency of Maidenhead can expect a real-term cut of £377 for every pupil. All except one school in the constituency represented by the chancellor, Philip Hammond – Runnymede and Weybridge – is likely to see funding reductions, with an average real-terms fall of £285 per pupil.

The analysis is published as a number of Conservative MPs have expressed their dismay at the results arising from the fair funding formula, after years of complaining that rural and shire districts were underfunded compared with inner city boroughs in London.

Hugo Swire, the Conservative MP for East Devon, has labelled the proposed formula “entirely unacceptable” if schools in his area see their budgets cut. The new analysis shows the constituency would effectively see a fall of more than £400 per pupil.

Greening’s announcement of the new formula in December included a pledge that no school will lose more than 3% of funding overall, with a maximum cut capped at 1.5% per year under the new formula. That still left around 9,000 schools losing out directly.

But school leaders and unions point out that with school spending frozen, the effective cuts are magnified by the impact of inflation and rising staff costs, including mandated increases in pay, pension and national insurance contributions.

The new formula is undergoing a public consultation, which finishes in March, before a final decision is taken by the government.

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