The government has agreed that funding differences among schools have accumulated over decades, and this is an issue which now needs to be addressed. Plans to investigate differences will be outlined in the Autumn statement, with consultation due to begin in early 2016.
The aim is to reduce historical variations in funding per pupil between different areas of England. In addition, school budgets face a likely drop of eight per cent per pupil due to rising costs expected over the next five years.
With the decrease in budgets looming, ministers have accepted that funding now needs to be addressed. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) says that in the current financial year the gap between the best and worst funded schools in England is £1.9 million.
More students in deprived boroughs in the north-west are entitled to free school meals than in wealthy London boroughs. Two weeks ago education minister Sam Gymiah told MPs: "It is patently unfair that Knowsley received nearly £750 less per pupil than Wandsworth."
Graham Stuart, one of the vice-chairs for the f40 campaign which has lobbied for change, said he was delighted by a firmer policy commitment. He said the details would be crucial, including how exactly fair funding would be calculated, how much money would be moved, and at what speed.
With budgets decreasing it becomes more difficult to redistribute funds, however this makes it more important than ever to make necessary changes.
Brian Lightman, ASCL's general secretary, said: "The key issue will be to make sure the plans are modelled thoroughly over a realistic timeframe, to make sure schools can maintain the quality of education during change."
It is expected that following a full consultation in 2016, changes will be introduced from 2017.
Posted by Tim Colman