On Thursday 14th September, the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, made a statement in the House of Commons to announce the Department’s plans to introduce a national fairer funding formula for schools. This statement builds upon the previous announcement from the Department in July to provide an additional £1.3 billion of funding for education. You can watch the full statement here.
This final funding formula follows an extensive consultation period which was launched by the Department for Education in 2016. Over 26,000 responses were submitted to the consultation which in turn have helped inform these policy proposals. For the first time the amount of money a school receives will not be decided by a postcode lottery, rather it will see every school in the country funded based on need.
Under the government's original proposal, 27 of my schools in South Cambridgeshire would have been worse off. When you have been existing for years on a shoe string budget, this reduction would have been the final straw. It is for this reason that I launched a joint campaign with my local Head Teachers to encourage a mass response to the consultation document. I wanted to make it clear to the Secretary of State how detrimental these proposals, in their original form, would have been for our young people and our education professionals.
South Cambridgeshire schools have historically been some of the lowest funded schools in the country. So I am relieved and delighted the Education Secretary listened to us and announced additional funding of £1.3 billion for the national education budget. This will see our overall spend increase from £41 billion to £43.5 billion by 2019/20. Not only will this protect all schools from budget reductions, it will also mean a larger increase to previously underfunded schools – like ours – through a minimum per pupil funding guarantee.
The final funding formula announced yesterday will see our schools receive a baseline average increase in funding of 3.2%; a significant improvement from the 0.5% outlined in the original proposal. This will mean that individual schools across South Cambridgeshire are now set to see an increase in funding of up to 7%, dependent on individual pupil characteristics.
Tackling the historic unfairness of our education funding was never going to be easy, but I am pleased this government has persisted until it found the right solution. I was especially encouraged by the Secretary of State’s pledge to continue exploring options for funding pupil growth in line with comments put forward by our own consultation responses. The transitionary years up to 2020 offer us a unique opportunity to continue influencing government around the more complex areas of the funding formula, to make sure it is responsive to challenges resulting from geographical pressures.
Finally I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit to the consultation; together we made a difference!