12 MAR 2017
Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about school funding.
I understand your concern on this matter and I was pleased to be one of the signatories of the letter that went to the Prime Minister last year supporting the Fair School Funding Campaign. For too long, the school funding model has been a complex affair which has left areas such as ours disadvantaged and MPs have been calling loudly for a better deal for the South West.
I was glad to be able to speak in the Backbench Business Debate on local government funding for rural areas because we must dispel the myth that deprivation is an urban problem. That said, the way that the new formula weights deprivation in a number of ways means that many schools in Devon stand to lose out. Some schools such as small rural schools however do benefit from the formula. Larger schools, especially those with falling numbers of pupils, or with relatively few pupils who speak English as a second language or on free school meals for example, may find that the formula leaves them worse off.
I share the concern expressed by schools which are disadvantaged by the changes and have raised these with the Secretary of State.
I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Education is of interest in setting out their position. It also sets out how you can directly contribute your views to the consultation.
With regard to the recent campaign by the NUT and ATL on school funding, it would appear to be irresponsible scaremongering. The claims are misleading and are based on poor evidence. To suggest that money is being taken out of the schools system is simply incorrect. The schools budget has been protected and this year it totals over £40 billion which is the highest ever on record.
The unions completely ignore the fact that pupil numbers are rising. Because per pupil funding is protected at current rates, more pupils mean more money in our schools. Taking per pupil funding and rising pupil numbers together, the school budget will be protected in real terms overall in this parliament.
The Government has outlined and sought views on its vision for a new funding system that ends the historic postcode lottery. The existing system is unfair, opaque and outdated. The current disparities mean that a school could receive 50 per cent more funding if it were based in another part of the country. Clearly this cannot be allowed to continue.
The Department for Education has recently set out proposals for how the formula will be implemented including the impact on schools and local authorities and is seeking the views of interested parties. It has also confirmed the factors that will be used in the formula, and has invited responses to the weightings they should be given.
The Government's fairer funding proposals will ensure that areas with the highest need attract the most funding and end the historic unfairness in the system. The national funding formula will be introduced from 2018-19.
If you would like to share your views on this I would encourage you to submit a response to stage 2 of the consultation which closes on the 22nd of March, you can access via the following link: https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula2/
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