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News archive - March/April 2017

All schools likely to lose out despite funding formula, says EPI

ALL schools in England face real terms cuts in funding per pupil, even after the introduction of a new national funding formula, according to analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

A new report from the research institute, The implications of the National Funding Formula for schools, finds that half of primary and secondary schools face large real terms, per pupil, cuts in funding of between 6-11% by 2019-20.

Produced to inform the Government’s recent consultation on the introduction of the new national funding formula (NFF) for schools, the analysis puts the plans into the context of wider financial pressures on the schools system.

There are clear disparities within the existing school funding system in England, meaning the Government is right to proceed with its plan to introduce a new NFF, the EPI observes. However, the proposals are unlikely to satisfy many local areas which have been relatively lower funded and have campaigned vocally for a new formula. Even though a greater share of funding is proposed to be allocated to disadvantaged pupils, EPI 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.

The EPI also considers the impact of inflationary pressures (highlighted by the NAO) and the removal of the Education Services Grant, when assessing overall changes to school finances between 2016-17 and 2019-20. It estimates that, by 2019-20, there are unlikely to be any schools in England which will avoid a real terms cut in per pupil funding by 2019-20, even in areas benefiting from the new formula.

The Institute further states, that without additional funding beyond 2020, there is a risk of further budget losses for around 5,000 schools, including around 880 schools that would lose more than 10% of their budget if the Government decides to remove the NFF transitional protections beyond 2020.

The proposed national funding formula is designed to bring to an end the disparities in the current school funding system which have allowed similar schools with similar students to receive levels of funding so different that it puts many young people at an educational disadvantage. The Government claims the protections it has built into the formula means that no school will face a reduction of more than more than 1.5% per pupil per year or 3% per pupil overall.