GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS to change the way in which schools are funded could see nearly three quarters of London’s schools having to cut down their budgets. The warning comes from London Councils, the organisation which represents the 33 Councils in London and provides London-wide services such as the Freedom Pass.
Schools are funded according to the National Funding Formula (NFF). The Government wants to change that formula to iron out what it claims are uneven levels of funding across England, where schools receive between £4,200 and £6,300 per pupil. Reducing the variation could be done by increasing funding to the schools which receive less money, but the current Government’s austerity approach means that it will reduce the gap by cutting funding to the schools which receive more money.
The new NFF would see inner city schools receiving 30% above the national average – but as the national average is going down, these schools will have to make real cuts in what they currently spend. It is estimated that London will see a reduction in funding of £360 million – nearly £1 million for every day of the year – which is the cost of nearly 13,000 qualified teachers (based on an average salary of £28,000). However, with inflation rising as well as relevant costs such as pension and national insurance contributions on the increase, school budget cuts will, in effect, be even greater. Figures from the National Audit Office put these increased costs at around 8%. The two factors taken together mean that schools will have to cut nearly £2 in every £5 they spend.
The education cuts could be a very false economy. Employers across London are crying out for recruits with better basic skills – and funding cuts such as those currently proposed are bound to depress the levels of basic skills and formal qualifications.
•To see the Government’s detailed proposals and take part in the consultation (which is open until 22nd March), go to: