Schools face 'stealth cuts' in new funding shake-up

Schools across South Yorkshire face losing hundreds of pounds per pupil if new Government funding proposals get the go-ahead, teaching unions have warned.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 16th January 2017, 8:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 7:26 am
Schools could lose out on funding, teaching unions have warned
Schools could lose out on funding, teaching unions have warned

Campaigners say that 98 per cent of schools will be worse off because rising prices and cost pressures will cancel out any increase if ministers introduce the new National Funding Formula.

Figures released by organisations representing school staff, teachers and leaders show that schools in Sheffield could lose up to 13 per cent - £362 - per pupil and in Doncaster up to 12 per cent - £425, by 2020.

The new funding formula is meant to address funding inequalities in places like Sheffield, which has historically been near the bottom of the national league table for funding per pupil.

Last year, Sheffield was among the worst funded cities with an average of £4,422 per pupil - around £2,000 less per pupil than Hackney, in London and £600 behind Liverpool.

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, is calling on the Secretary of State for Education to make urgent representations to the Chancellor to deliver extra resources for schools in his Budget statement to Parliament on March 8.

She said: "The new funding formula was already robbing Peter to pay Paul by cutting money from some schools to give to others, but these new figures prove the Government is actually taking with both hands.”

“These stealth cuts will have a huge impact on pupils in my area. Already we don’t get our fair share of funding and that has real consequences – a school in my constituency had to close down a fantastic summer programme last year which gave kids additional support to get them up to speed for the new school year.”

“The Tories have to realise that if they keep starving our city’s schools of funding then they are neglecting a whole generation of students. Those students are seeing class sizes rise, teachers under strain and educational support wither. I will fight hard to make sure our city gets its fair share.”

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Every single MP in England has reason to be worried about our latest analysis which shows how every constituency will be adversely affected by the Government’s recently-announced funding proposals.

"Schools are already on their knees trying to make ends meet. Budgets have been cut to the bone and decisions such as increasing class sizes and losing staff have already been made.

"To avert this national scandal, Government must reassess its plans and make substantial new funding an urgent priority so that all schools have sufficient money to run an effective education system.”

A Department of Education spokesman said: "The NUT/ATL figures are fundamentally misleading.

"School funding is at its highest level on record and will be over £40bn in 2016-17. The unions have completely ignored the fact that as pupil numbers rise so will the amount of money schools receive. To suggest that we are taking money out of the system is simply incorrect. What the unions are doing is blurring two separate debates – the total level of funding for schools and the distribution of that funding.

“We have set out proposals to end the historic postcode lottery in school funding. Under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost in 2018-19. This will help to create a system that funds schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than where they live - disparities in the current school funding system mean a school could get 50 per cent more if it were situated in another part of the country.

"We have also announced further investment of £190million to provide more support to underperforming schools and ensure the number of good school places continues to rise.

“However, we recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so‎ they get the best possible value for their pupils.”