High hopes for a fairer funding system for schools

23 May 02
Radical proposals for funding schools and local education authorities were due to be unveiled this week.

24 May 2002

Parents and governors who have spent up to ten years demanding a fairer financing system are pinning their hopes on the conclusions of an education funding strategy group, whose report was being presented at a conference in London on May 24.

The strategy group, made up of representatives from the Local Government Association, the Department for Education and Skills and teaching unions, was set up 18 months ago in response to the local government finance green paper.

After ring-fencing was ruled out, the group has been looking at ways of making funding more transparent. If its recommendations are accepted by ministers, a new system could take effect in April 2003.

Mike Heiser, a senior project officer at the LGA, said it was important to see how much an LEA spends on schools and other education services and to be able to compare that against a council's Standard Spending Assessment.

Some of the strategy group's members are from councils forming part of the 'F40' campaign, comprising parents, governors and teachers from the worst-funded LEAs in England.

The F40 group wants funding to reflect the true cost of running schools, especially in rural areas and in authorities facing high recruitment and retention costs, rather than being based on historical assessments.

Eunice Finney, a parent who represents Staffordshire on the F40 group, said that each year the more affluent councils were getting richer at the expense of poorer authorities. She was among a group of F40 campaigners who lobbied Local Government Secretary Stephen Byers last week.

'We were promised the new system would be understandable, logical and transparent. The only word he missed out was fairer,' she said.


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