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Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, has today launched a consultation about a replacement of the current school funding system, which she says is "outdated, inefficient and unfair". The National Governors’ Association welcomes the announcement, having campaigned for a fairer funding system for a number of years. We will now be studying the proposals in detail.
Nicky Morgan said: “We want every school in England to get the funding it deserves, so that all children - whatever their background and wherever they live in the country - get a great education.
“The introduction of a national funding formula from 2017 to 2018 will see the biggest step towards fairer funding in over a decade - ensuring that pupils get funding that genuinely matches their need. It will also ensure that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds continue to receive significant additional funding to overcome entrenched barriers to their success.”
A formal announcement about the consultation has been expected since Nicky addressed NGA members in June 2015, when she said: “It cannot be right that there are some parts of the country where there is not just a few but thousands of pounds of difference between the amounts that schools are getting between county and city or between neighbouring authorities”.
The consultation proposes to introduce reform in a two stage process. For the years 2017-18 and 2018-19 funding will continue to be distributed to local authorities (LAs) and then to schools via local formula, but the amount of funding each LA receives will be subject to change. From 2019-20 the Department for Education will take direct responsibility for calculating and distributing funding to schools.
There is also a two-stage approach to the consultation with this first stage consulting on:
· The principles of funding reform
· The building blocks used to construct the formula
· The factors to be included in the formula.
Once these key principles have been agreed, a further consultation seeking views on the weighting of these factors will follow. This second stage consultation will set out full illustrations of the impacts of the funding formulae across schools and local authorities.
According to the BBC, Labour's shadow education secretary Lucy Powell says that for a national funding formula "the devil will be in the detail". She also warned that the overall schools budget would see a real-terms spending cut, which would have a "huge impact".
There is also a parallel consultation on proposals to introduce a high needs national funding formula and, later this year, a national funding formula for early years funding.
Key dates: This consultation runs from 7 March 2016 to 17 April 2016
To see the full consultation documents, visit: https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula