ASCL calls for national fair funding formula to reduce gap between local authorities

A call is being made for the introduction of a national fair funding formula as analysis by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) shows schools in poorly-funded areas will each receive almost £2 million less than those in the best-funded areas.

At its annual conference in London on Friday and Saturday, the union will call for the formula, which is based on what schools need, rather than historic allocations.

ASCL’s research shows schools in the 10 best-funded areas will receive £6,297 per pupil in 2015-16, on average, compared to £4,208 per pupil in the worst-funded local authorities.

The union said this is a difference in budget, at a 920-pupil school, of £1.9 million at the top and bottom of the scale. It estimates this is the cost of 40 full-time teachers per school.

ASCL deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: “School funding is a postcode lottery. In many areas, schools receive inadequate funding because of a historic grant system that does not work.

“Instead of reforming the system, successive governments have tinkered with it and failed to fully resolve the problem.

“It means that many schools must struggle with resources which are simply not sufficient for the job they are expected to do.”

The worst hit area in the country is Wokingham where schools will receive just £4,158 per pupil next year.

Suzanne Richards, headteacher of The Holt School in Wokingham, said the school has had to cut back on multiple school programmes, including its modern foreign language outreach to primary schools and reduce the number of courses on offer for GCSE and sixth form pupils.

She said: “We have real concerns regarding funding. Since 2011-12, our budget has fallen by £200,000 and we expect a cut this year of £150,000, with more to follow, yet nationally we are told education funding is not being cut.

“Other local secondary schools are similarly affected and we are all working with our local authority to establish an independent review of why this is happening.

“We are having to review all costs, contracts and staffing in all areas.

“There have sadly been some staff redundancies already and only essential staff are being replaced if anyone leaves voluntarily.”

The 10 most poorly funded areas in England in 2015/16, per pupil, will be:

1. Wokingham – £4,158

2. Poole – £4,194

3. South Gloucestershire – £4,196

4. Stockport – £4,206

5. West Sussex – £4,206

6. Cheshire East – £4,209

7. York – £4,209

8. Dorset – £4,230

9. Trafford – £4,235

10. Warrington –  £4,236

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