Parents urged to join consultation over school funding

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  • Plans for fairer funding system by 2017/18
  • Local authority could be taken out of funding equation by 2019/20 as money goes directly to schools
  • Consultation will run until April 17
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Have your say

Parents have been urged to have their say in a nationwide consultation looking at a fairer way to fund schools.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan launched the consultation on Monday (March 7) following ongoing pressure from schools and MPs all over the country.

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Under the current funding system, some local authorities, including West Sussex, have received thousands of pounds less per child per year than their better-funded neighbours.

The shortfall left headteachers unable to take on the staff they needed or to replace essentials such as books and pencils.

The consultation, which ends on April 17, will cover plans for a fairer system – called the national funding formula – which is scheduled to be in place for the 2017/18 school year.

Calling on parents to take part, Horsham MP Jeremy Quin said he was delighted to see “real progress” being made. He added: “I would be delighted if, as part of that process, parents participated directly in the consultation – this is all about how their children’s education will be funded for years to come.”

One part of Mrs Morgan’s outline proposals for future funding would see money going straight to the schools from 2019/20, rather than relying on local authorities to determine how much funding each school was allocated.

Her report stated: “A single national funding formula for schools will remove the role of the local authority, ensuring pupils with similar needs attract the same level of funding to their school, and will also give headteachers far more certainty over future budgets.”

GMB, the union for school support staff, said such a move would be a step towards the privatisation of the school system.

Mr Quin did not agree. He said: “Linking the funding direct to schools rather than via the local authority should make fair funding more transparent but it makes getting the formula right all the more important.”

West Sussex currently receives £4,198 per pupil, compared to the average £4,612 countrywide.

Last year, every headteacher in the county signed their names to the Worth Less? campaign, calling for a better deal for their schools.

While they welcomed the idea of a fairer funding system, they asked the government to provide an interim payment of £200 per pupil to help them make ends meet until 2017/18.

Such an amount would still leave the county falling £200 per pupil short of the national average.

The campaigners had earlier dismissed as “a pittance” a stop-gap payment of £930k as it amounted to little more than £10 per pupil.

Both Mr Quin and Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, said they would be working closely with West Sussex headteachers to ensure the county’s schools received “a fair deal as soon as possible”.

A meeting has been scheduled for later this week.

Mr Quin said: “Some of the principles set out in the consultation, including local cost pressures and growth, are critical for our schools and I want to ensure they receive proper weighting.

“I will be responding to the consultation and will be liaising with heads on the best way to put across our current and future needs.”

To have your say in the consultation, log on to consult.education.gov.uk.

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