NASUWT comments on school funding formula reforms

Commenting on the Department for Education’s consultation on a new national funding formula for schools, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:

“The launch of the consultation on reforms to the system of school funding is more likely to provoke anxiety rather than confidence or reassurance in schools.

“At a time when the Government has failed to protect school budgets in real terms, there is a real risk that today’s announcement will create increased financial uncertainty for schools and lead to premature and detrimental actions by schools which will not be to the benefit of pupils’ education.

“Schools need assurances in the short and medium term which will enable them to plan and organise effectively and give them the confidence to continue to deliver high standards of education for children and young people.

“It is unlikely that anyone would argue against the principle that the funding system for schools should be fair, but the devil will be in the detail and schools, teachers and parents will be desperate to know how the proposals will affect them.

“It is particularly unfortunate that ministers appear to be pre-empting some critically important issues in relation to the future funding of schools, not least with regard to the future role of local authorities.

“A funding system for schools that is capable of recognising local needs and circumstances and which is democratically accountable must be the best way to ensure that the needs of children and young people across very different contexts and circumstances are met.

“Diminishing further the important contribution of local authorities could make it much more difficult to deliver the additional support schools need when they need it.

“At a time when the Department for Education has recently been heavily criticised for its failure to recognise or address the current crisis in teacher supply, ministers must be required to demonstrate that they have the capability to deal competently and effectively with the funding of 20,000 schools across the country.

Today’s funding announcement brings more questions than answers for schools.

Given the Government’s track record of cuts to school budgets and at a time when further austerity measures are being planned, the NASUWT is concerned that the revised funding formula is likely to create the level playing field, but at great cost to pupils’ education.

“The NASUWT will be responding in detail to the Government’s proposals and will be making clear that any change to the funding system must enable all schools to continue to deliver the best possible education for their pupils.

“The NASUWT will also be pressing the Government to identify additional investment to ensure effective transitional arrangements are in place to safeguard standards of educational provision in all schools.

“The question on everyone’s lips will be how much more or less money will individual schools receive, and that is a question the Government has failed to answer.”