National funding formula will shift funding away from most disadvantaged pupils, report says

The impact of the proposed national funding formula will result in large real-time cuts for half of primary and secondary schools by 2019, according to a report published by the Education Policy Institute.

The implications of the national funding formula for schools report found that the government’s proposals are “unlikely to satisfy many local areas which have been relatively lower funded and have campaigned vocally for a new formula”.

The research states that the plans to allocate more funding to disadvantaged and low attaining pupils will mean lower funded authorities are unlikely to see increases they had hoped for.

Despite a greater share of funding proposed to be allocated to disadvantaged pupils, the research finds that the overall impact of redistributing the schools budget results in shifting funding away from the most disadvantaged pupils “towards what is considered the ‘just about managing’ group”.

Also highlighted in the report, the most deprived primary and secondary schools with over 30 per cent of pupils receiving school meals will receive a small net gain of £5.6 million overall, however the most deprived secondary schools will actually see falls.

Other primary and secondary schools with less than 30 per cent of students on free school meals will get an additional £275 million, and many of these schools have very low level of disadvantage.

Pupils who live in the least deprived areas, which is measured by the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index, will experience the highest gains.

The report also states that funding for low prior attainment means that the lowest performing schools in the country are set to gain £78.5 million more overall than the top performing schools. This is “particularly acute” in London, where a net loss to the highest performing primary schools was found to be around £16.6 million overall.

The Education Policy Institute estimates that by 2019- 2020 there are unlikely to be any schools in England which will avoid a real terms cut in per pupil funding, even in areas benefiting from the new formula.

This is taking into account the impact of inflationary pressures and the removal of the Education Services Grant.

By 2019- 20, it is also believed that up to half of primary and secondary schools will be faced with significant real cuts in funding per pupil of between six and 11 per cent. This equates to an average real terms loss of £74,000 per primary and £291,000 per secondary school.

The report concludes that without additional funding after 2020, there is a risk of further budget losses for around 5,000 schools, which would include around 880 losing more than 10 per cent of its budget.

The government consultation on the introduction of a new national funding formula is set to close on 22 March.

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