Schools Can Expect A Delay Of 1 Year For A New Funding Scheme


The Law Of... ensuring equal funding for all schools

The introduction of a new funding scheme – described as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" – for schools in England will be delayed by 1 year, as reported by the BBC.

The Law Of... ensuring equal funding for all schools

Education Secretary Justine Greening informed MPs that the scheme that was due to take effect from 2017-2018 will now apply from 2018-2019, as the government are conscious about getting their "approach right."

Costly Delays

The delay has been opposed by Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary for Labour, who described the new plans for the new scheme as "woeful". It's also been questioned by Neil Carmichael, chairman of Parliament's education select committee, who had previously pointed out that the plan had already gone out to consultation earlier this year.

The basis of the scheme is to tackle uneven funding given to schools in the UK. Currently, schools in the best funded areas receive more than £6,300 per pupil per year, which is in stark contrast to areas with the least funding, which receive a yearly average of £4,200 for each pupil.

Some fear that whilst some schools will benefit from this scheme, schools in areas that desperately need more funding might actually stand to lose out and face budget cuts themselves.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, argued that the scheme didn't actually provide any new money for schools, and didn't acknowledge real funding problems.

A Promising Future For Education?

Addressing concerns about this delay, Ms Greening stated that she didn't want the scheme to be rushed into lightly, without knowing its ramifications, and that the new dates were beneficial for local authorities, who now have more time to plan further ahead.

She also mentioned that first stage consultations on the new national funding scheme for schools and high needs "have been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from head teachers, teachers, governors and parents."

Ms Greening plans to publish a complete response to the first stage of the consultations, which will include her proposals for the second stage, in the autumn – with a view to making final decisions in early 2017.

She stressed that no school would lose funding, and that in 2017-2018 local authorities would not experience a reduction from their 2016-2017 funding.

Tackling The Opposition

John Pugh, education spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, expressed a deep concern over the new scheme, which he believes threatens to cut "already overstretched" school budgets.

Building on the growing anxiety, the Association of School and College Leaders commented that whilst they accepted the reasoning behind the delay they were "extremely disappointed that no interim support had been put in place for the lowest funded schools."

This announcement has come at a time when tension between the government and unions has already been rising, as 5 unions recently issued a joint statement urging the government to increase school budgets.

Samantha Hale, Associate Solicitor in Education and Community Care, comments:

"Whilst the government's scheme is trying to take a fairer approach to distributing funding for schools, there is a real possibility that some schools – who already struggle in terms of funding – will lose more than they can afford to."

"There's also a question mark over how this scheme will affect academies and mainstream schools in the UK. Academies receive their funding straight from the government; however, mainstream schools get their funds from local authorities, who currently decide how much money is given to schools under their jurisdiction."

"Some schools are also already struggling to accommodate the increasing numbers of pupils, and any changes to their budgets might actually put their students at risk. The Department for Education's 2016 report has shown that there's been a dramatic increase of 121,000 students in the school system in 2016 in comparison to the number of students in 2015."

"Any changes to funding will need to be carefully considered – especially the impact changes will have on those with special education needs (SEN), to ensure they have continuous access to the support that they need. If you're concerned that your child isn't getting enough funding for provisions that have been agreed to meet their needs, we can provide you with SEN advice and guidance relevant to your situation."

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