Wednesday 25 November 2015

There's nothing 'fair' about 'fair funding' cuts to school budgets

With typical 'doublespeak', the Chancellor George Osborne has announced as part of his Comprehensive Spending Review that 'unfair' school funding arrangements will be replaced by a new National Funding Formula from 2017. Of course, his proposals will not actually bring greater 'fairness'. What they will bring is greater cuts to school budgets.

As Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said in press statements from the NUT today: 
“Schools are already facing job cuts, increasing class sizes and cuts in spending on books and materials. The Government must accept that we must invest in education, not cut it, for the sake of our young people and our country.
Schools and colleges face significant additional costs in addition to inflation; higher employer national insurance and pension contributions will mean an increase of some 5% in school and college paybill costs. Without significant additional resources, reallocation of school funding under the Government ‘Fair Funding’ proposals will not address schools’ funding problems.
The NUT agrees that in some areas schools urgently need more money if they are to avoid removing teachers from classes. However we do not in any way accept that any school or local authority can afford to have money taken away.  The funding reform programme must include additional money, otherwise far from being ‘fair funding’, the Government plan is false funding".

A real 'fair funding' scheme would start by looking at the funding schools and Local Authorities actually need to meet the costs of meeting children's needs. Instead, and far from addressing funding problems, NUT research published today shows that Osborne's ‘fair funding’ proposals, based on the redistribution of insufficient funds, just mean more cuts.

It found that, even just taking predicted inflation rates (as predicted by the Treasury), every local authority in England  (with the possible exception of just one - Barnsley!) will see real terms cuts ranging from 2.3% in the currently lowest funded authorities rising to more than 20% in some London boroughs. These losses do not even take into account the additional costs of higher employer pension and national insurance contributionsnor the expected additional cuts in funding for 16 to 19 year olds – which will make the situation much worse in sixth form and FE colleges and in any secondary school with a sixth form. 

These cuts will have a particularly dramatic effect in London where, at present, schools generally have a higher per pupil allocation of funding, although they also face higher pay and other costs as well. That higher funding is undoubtedly a factor in helping to explain the 'London effect' where GCSE results in the capital are generally higher than the rest of England. Higher funding helps schools to help young people. Instead these vicious cuts will damage young people's lives.

Figures taken from the National NUT's research showing huge cuts to London schools
London NUT Secretaries will be holding an emergency meeting next week to discuss the impact of these proposals and to plan a campaign to protect education from Osborne's cuts.

No comments: