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News - July/August 2017

School funding allocation needs greater local input

School funding allocation needs greater local input

COUNCILS and schools must retain an element of flexibility over how schools funding is distributed locally to ensure children don’t miss out, council leaders have said.

Local government leaders are supportive of the national funding formula but maintain that setting 22,000 school budgets remotely from Whitehall will not work.

Councils believe they are uniquely placed with up-to-date local knowledge to ensure funding is distributed fairly, and therefore must be in a position to agree a different allocation of funding locally if necessary.

Decisions about providing additional funding for more teachers or providing higher allocations for small rural schools to ensure they can stay open cannot be made from Whitehall, argues the Local Government Association.

The LGA is particularly concerned about the proposed changes to high needs funding which will reduce council and school flexibility to make additional funding available where there are rising demand pressures for special educational needs and disability support. “Schools should also be given greater certainty of future funding,” the LGA states, “with three-year budgets as opposed to annual, to help them better plan for the spending pressures they face.”

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, comments: “Currently, there is a real fear amongst councils that a strict national funding formula will not reflect local need and that children could potentially miss out on receiving the education they deserve.

“The setting of school budgets works best when done at a local level, with councils working with head teachers, governors and schools forums to determine need and priorities. The Government should allow councils to have some flexibility over how the national formula is implemented locally to ensure the widest possible success and acceptance.”

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