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School heads in ‘postcode lottery’ funding protest

Education Secretary Justine Greening pledged to secure an extra £1.3billion of funding over the next two years

Thousands of headteachers are writing to parents to complain that Government efforts to end a ‘postcode lottery’ in school funding have failed.

A letter from more than 4,000 heads across England will tell families the new national funding formula will do little to solve the cash problems suffered by many state schools.

Schools in 17 counties intend to distribute the letter to parents this week, detailing the budget cuts that many schools still face. But last night critics said it was inappropriate for headteachers to be ‘meddling in politics’.

The intervention comes despite a pledge by Education Secretary Justine Greening to secure an extra £1.3billion of funding over the next two years.

Jules White, head at Tanbridge House school in West Sussex, who co-ordinated the letter, told the Guardian: ‘A school in a disadvantaged area of Crawley or a tough part of Barnsley will receive millions of pounds less than schools from similar socio-economic areas in London or Manchester.’ Earlier this month, Miss Greening told MPs the proposed new formula would ‘represent the biggest improvement in the school funding system for decades’.

It aims to end the uneven funding through local authorities that has resulted in some schools – particularly those in inner London – receiving thousands of pounds more per pupil than other areas.

The headteachers argue the promised reforms would still uphold huge disparities in school budgets across the country.

The letter will say: ‘Your child’s education will still be at the behest of a postcode funding lottery.

‘We cannot suggest the new formula is in any way satisfactory.’

Calculations by the heads found – despite Miss Greening’s promise of extra cash – the proposal amounts to a real-terms cut of 4.6 per cent by 2020 compared with five years earlier. The headteachers are urging parents to lobby MPs for improved funding.

Mr White is a spokesman for the Worth Less? coalition of teachers campaigning for more school funding. In the run-up to June’s general election, they were accusing of interfering in politics after sending letters to parents criticising Tory funding policies.

The headteachers argue the promised reforms would still uphold huge disparities in school budgets across the country

The headteachers argue the promised reforms would still uphold huge disparities in school budgets across the country

Henry Smith, Conservative MP for Crawley in West Sussex, said: ‘I am sorry that headteachers seem to be spending time writing to parents on an issue that the Government has worked very hard and successfully on.

‘Any public servants, like head teachers, need to be very careful not to enter the political arena in their role as headteachers.’

Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, added: ‘Sending out such a letter at party conference time is certainly meddling in politics. It is politicising education.’

The Department for Education said the reforms meant ‘for the first time school funding will be distributed according to a formula based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country. It has been widely welcomed and will put an end to the historic disparities.’

A spokesman added: ‘As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed, overall schools funding is being protected at a national level in real terms per pupil over the next two years.‘

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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