Tory MPs 'urge PM to ditch schools funding plan'

4 May 17

Senior Conservative MPs have called on Theresa May to pull the plug on major changes to school funding before the snap election, a newspaper has reported.

Yesterday’s Evening Standard – now edited by ex-Conservative MP and chancellor George Osborne – quoted a range of Conservative politicians saying plans to introduce a new schools funding formula needed to be revisited.

Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, told the newspaper it was “quite right” for the government to address the funding inequality but argued that the draft formula “could not work in that form” and needed to be revised.

The national funding formula would be the first one to be introduced and is an attempt at more fairly distributing funds to schools across England. The government plans to start introducing it from April next year.

It would ensure similar schools in different areas get the same level of funding per pupil, which would replace the current system whereby local authorities get different amounts of money per pupil and then share it out according to their own formulas.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said the new funding arrangement would lead to ‘winners’ and ‘losers’

Luke Sibieta, association director for education, employment and evaluation at the IFS, has said with current funding for education being tight it will lead to “absolute losers”.

Bob Blackman, Conservative candidate for Harrow East, told news service the Press Association he was against the current proposals because of the 22 schools in his constituency, 17 would lose money and only five would gain funding but it wouldn’t keep up with inflation.

He said: "For me this is unacceptable. The only way this could happen is if the government chooses to pump money into the system.”

In March the Public Accounts Committee labelled the government’s cost-saving plans for schools “dangerous” but the Department for Education claims it has protected the core schools budget in real terms since 2010, with school funding at its all-time high at almost £41bn in 2017-18, set to rise, as pupil numbers increase over the next two years, to £42bn by 2019-20.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said her party supported the principle of a fairer funding formula for schools but slammed the government’s plans as “simply an exercise in moving inadequate sums of money around".

Liberal Democrat education spokesman John Pugh said the Conservative plans were deeply flawed.

“Their proposals were utterly cynical, taking from some areas to give to others, rather than committing to give all schools the additional funding they need,” he claimed.

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