School funding reform must redress £45m blackhole that stifles pupil progress across the North East

7th March 2016

THE Government has a “moral obligation” to redress school funding inequality that is stifling pupil progress in the North East, according to a leading education charity director.

Current funding arrangements see schools in the region receive £45.6m less each year than the national average. The Government today kick-started a national consultation that will form the basis of a new national funding formula for all schools.

The Department for Education is expected to give every school a basic amount per pupil which will be topped up as follows:

• A payment based on  “additional needs” such as deprivation, low prior attainment and the number of pupils speaking English as an additional language
• “School costs” such as the extra costs related to serving rural communities
• “Area costs” that will make sure more funding goes to the areas with the highest costs

Mike Parker, Director of SCHOOLS NorthEast, said: “The North East currently receives £45m less in funding each year than the national average. That gap widens markedly compared with schools in areas such as London. Given the regional challenges that schools here currently face, the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has a moral obligation to target funding at the point of greatest need.

“SCHOOLS NorthEast strongly welcomes the decision to develop a national funding formula that irons out inconsistencies, but only on the basis that the balance of spending is targeted where it will have the greatest impact.”

The initial plans for a new formula, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement, were broadly welcomed by SCHOOLS NorthEast.

Our analysis showed that if all school places in the region were funded at current national levels, this would be equivalent to £45.6m extra funding for schools in the region.

Current average funding nationally equates to £4,732 per pupil – but in the City of London it is as high as £8,595. The average for the North East is £4,616. Ten of the 12 local authority areas in the North East currently receive payments below the national average.

The table below shows, by Local Authority, how much funding is paid by the Department for Education on a per pupil basis in comparison to the highest funded (City of London) and lowest funded (Wokingham):