Gove stalls schools funding reforms

27 Mar 12
Education ministers are to delay the roll out of a national funding formula for schools in order to fine-tune the system.
By Vivienne Russell | 27 March 2012

Education ministers are to delay the roll out of a national funding formula for schools in order to fine-tune the system.

A consultation on a national funding formula was conducted last year. This proposed distributing money to local authorities on a needs basis and simplifying the way funds are passed on to schools.

But in a written statement issued yesterday, Education Secretary Michael Gove said that, while there was widespread support for the move, the proposed model needed ‘refinement and careful implementation’.

He said: ‘Getting the components and implementation of a fair national funding formula right is critical and we need to manage transition carefully so there is the minimum disturbance for schools. In the current economic climate stability must be a priority.’

A document, School funding reform: next steps towards a fairer system, published alongside Gove’s statement, sets out how the system will operation from 2013/14.

The education secretary said the formula would reduce administrative burdens on schools, academies and local authorities and make funding arrangements more understandable for head teachers.

Gove also announced that the Minimum Funding Guarantee would remain at minus 1.5% per pupil in both 2013/14 and 2014/15. He said this would give schools the ‘stability’ they need.

The Association of School and College Leaders said Gove’s decision to delay the implementation of the national funding system was ‘sensible’.

Deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: ‘Changing the funding formula will have serious implications for schools and therefore it is crucial that we get it right.

‘Rushing into overly-simplistic funding changes without proper testing would simply be rearranging the deck chairs. Because it is so difficult to predict the knock-on effect of changing one part of the formula, the proposals must be thoroughly modelled at both local authority and school level before they are implemented. Without such detailed work there is a real risk that the new system would merely impose a different set of inequities.’

But the Association of Teachers and Lecturers was less impressed. Deputy general secretary Martin Johnson said: ‘Despite the government spending 2011 consulting on how to reform school funding, it is now planning to keep a system which becomes more unfair each year because ministers didn't like the answers they got.’

He added that the 1.5% cash cut many schools would experience in each of the next two years betrayed ministers’ lack of commitment to education and learning.

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