£1.3bn boost sparks further concerns over core school funding
More than a billion pounds has been pledged to boost core school funding, the education secretary has announced, but education leaders remain concerned over wider implications.
The announcement follows mounting pressure on the government from campaigns over funding shortages, and will see an additional £1.3bn spent on schools in England over the next two years.
This funding - £416 million in 2018-19 and £884 million in 2019-20 - is an addition to the core school budget set out in the last spending review, meaning funding for schools will be £2.6 billion higher in 2019-20 than in 2017-18.
The extra cash has been freed up from within the Department for Education's existing budget, with no new money being given by the Treasury.
This has sparked further concern from within the sector, with many questioning where this funding boost will be coming from.
Labour's shadow education secretary Angela Rayner claimed the government had simply "taken from one hand and put it in with the other", while colleague and Blackburn MP Kate Hollern said the investment was "nothing more than a sticking plaster."
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, called it a "step in the right direction”, but said he will be examining the implications of the decision.
He said: “The additional investment is a step in the right direction and an acknowledgment of the huge level of concern around the country on this issue. We now look forward to working with the government to ensure that all schools receive the funding that they need.
“We are concerned that this is money saved from elsewhere in education budget and not ‘new’ money from the Treasury and we will be examining the implications.
“The government must also urgently address the severe underfunding of post-16 education which has put sixth forms and colleges under huge financial pressure and led to severe cutbacks.”
Education secretary Justine Greening also confirmed that a new National Funding Formula will be introduced in 2018 in a bid to make school funding a fairer process.
Ms Greening said: "Fairer schools funding – backed by today’s additional investment – will deliver the biggest improvement to the school funding system for well over a decade. It will mean an increase in the basic amount that every pupil will get, protected funding for those with high needs and will ensure every local authority is in a position to give schools a cash increase through the new formula.
"This means that, with teachers and schools across the country, we can continue to raise standards and give every child the best possible education, and the best opportunities for the future."
According to the announcement, the new funding formula will increase the basic amount that every pupil will attract, it will allow for gains of up to three per cent per pupil for underfunded schools over the next two years, it will provide at least a 0.5% a year per pupil cash increase for every school in 2018-19 and 2019-29, and will continue to protect funding for pupils with additional needs.
Mr Barton said: “We welcome the additional funding for schools pledged by the government today and its continued commitment to the introduction of a national funding formula.
“It is right to bring in a new formula in order to iron out the inconsistencies which have led to a postcode lottery in the way that school funding is distributed around the country.
“The government has recognised that this can only be truly fair to schools if the overall level of funding is sufficient."