What the budget means for schools
An extra £500m budget has been announced in today’s budget in order to accelerate the new national school funding formula.
Chancellor George Osborne stated that his aim was for 90 per cent of the schools that are to benefit from the new formula to move to the new system by 2020.
The new national school formula will reduce the huge disparity of funding per pupil in different parts of the country, and will be rolled out next year. The proposals are that funding will be distributed to LAs to pass on to schools, and allocated according to a national formula based on:
- the number of pupils
- deprivation (at pupil and area level)
- low prior attainment; and
- English as an Additional Language (EAL).
School cost factors that cannot be easily allocated on a formulaic basis will also be allowed, with a proposed lump sum for all schools, retention of the ‘sparsity’ factor, and allowances for growth in pupil numbers and geographic differences in costs.
The Chancellor has also announced that by 2020, every school must become or be in the process of becoming an academy. Any schools failing to do so would be forced under new powers to be adopted by the government.
Mr Osbourne also announced that the government will consider making the teaching of maths compulsory until the age of 18.
A further £285million has been sent aside to allow a quarter of secondary schools to be able to open for longer. The funding will allow these schools to rethink the structure and duration of their school day by opening for longer hours. Schools that successfully bid for the funding can use it to provide at least five extra hours a week for extra-curricular activities such as art and sport.
Mr Osbourne said these plans are in to ensure that every child receives ‘the best start’ in life and will ‘put the next generation first'.
We say: The national funding formula is, of course, a welcome development, but we are less convinced about the requirement for all schools to become academies by 2020. So far, there has been no evidence that academies do any better for pupils than maintained schools. What about those academies that don't improve after they are converted? We also foresee problems with the national funding formula, including a new set of financial 'winners' and 'losers'.
In our next issue of School Leadership Today, Peter Downes - a long-term campaigner for the national funding formula, and a very vocal critic of academies - gives his opinion on the government's proposals so far and the latest evidence that the government's obsession with academies will damage our education system beyond repair.
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