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Extra money for schools in funding reform

14/03/2014 Joanna
Schools minister David Laws has pledged extra funding for the country's schools but has shelved plans to introduce a national funding formula before the next election.

Some £350 million is to be given to the least fairly-funded local authorities in the UK. Mr Laws said this would benefit four in ten areas and no institution or local authority will lose out.

Allocation of the money will take place in April 2015 and will be ready for the 2015-16 financial year.

According to the minister, the changes are necessary to rectify an inherent unfairness in the system, whereby schools located just a few miles apart can receive drastically different levels of funding simply by virtue of the fact that they are located in different local authorities.

He gave the example of a school in Birmingham with only three per cent of pupils receiving free school meals being given more money than one in Shropshire where 33 per cent of students are eligible for the benefit.

This prevents youngsters from having access to the best possible teaching, Mr Laws stated.

However, he claimed progress has been made on the issue, after the government inherited an "unnecessarily complicated system". Some 80 per cent of funding is now allocated on the basis of each pupil's need within a school.

He said the national funding formula has been abandoned in the interests of "stability and certainty in these difficult economic times".  

"We have concluded that the right time to do this would be when there are multi-year public spending plans, so we can give greater certainty to schools," Mr Laws commented.

Minimum funding levels are to be established in order to ensure a fair distribution of money. 

They are to cover funding for deprived pupils, for those with English as an additional language, for pupils with low levels of attainment on entering school and for those who have been looked after, for example in foster care.

Fixed costs are to be covered and separate minimum levels will be set for schools in sparsely-populated areas.

Mr Laws said of the change: "It delivers fairness without creating instability, uncertainty or cuts in better funded areas."

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801703365-ADNFCR
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