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UK: school funding formula for schools delayed

published 3 August 2016 updated 12 August 2016

Education unions in the UK have reacted to the postponement of the new national funding formula for schools by reaffirming that the formula does not yet add up and that additional investment is needed.

Education Secretary Justine Greening announced that the new national funding formula will apply from 2018-19, a year later than planned.

NASUWT: P roposals for additional investment needed

“The Secretary of State is right to postpone the launch of this important consultation, given that no specific proposals have been presented to date and also given that schools are now closing for the summer period,” said Chris Keates, General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) on the statement by the Education Secretary.

The Education Secretary’s statement recognises that plans to significantly reform the system for distributing funding to schools and academies have provoked anxiety and uncertainty for schools at a time when school budgets are already under considerable pressure, she said. Greening’s statement “should provide some reassurance to school leaders, teachers and governors who have been increasingly concerned about the prospect of a rushed programme of reform without access to any of the detail, and with limited consultation regarding the specific changes to be proposed”, Keates said.

Ministers must also consider the increasingly negative impact of spending cuts on teachers and schools, which is leading to increased pressures on parents, she said.

The Government must develop proposals that will deliver additional investment for all schools and which will end the real term cuts to school budgets witnessed since 2010, Keates stressed.

NUT: Funding must be addressed “as a matter of urgency”

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) General Secretary Kevin Courtney also underlined that “Justine Greening’s announcement on school funding provides no new money and ignores the real problems facing schools”.

The Institute For Fiscal Studies acknowledged that schools are suffering the worst cuts since the 1970s, he reminded. This has led to “an increase in class sizes, subjects being dropped from the curriculum, fewer books and resources, cuts to school trips, and a rise in the number of pupils taught by unqualified teachers”, he said.

Mentioning a “fear for children’s education unless funding was addressed as a matter of urgency”, he noted that the Education Secretary’s announcement does nothing to allay these fears.

Even under the Government’s fairer funding proposal, almost every school will face a real term cut to their budget, Courtney said. As a matter of urgency, the Government must find money for schools to address their immediate needs, he said, adding that his union will be seeking a meeting with the education minister as soon as possible to outline its genuine concerns on this matter.