Walker hails breakthrough moment for fair funding and urges local schools to get involved

Worcester’s MP Robin Walker, has put fairer funding for schools at the heart of his career in Parliament, raising it again and again over his years as a backbencher, acting as the Vice Chairman of the cross party f40 campaign for a number of years and most recently working as PPS to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, on implementation of the policy. He welcomed the commitment in the 2015 Conservative Manifesto to deliver fairer funding to schools and today he has welcomed the Secretary of State’s announcement that it will go ahead.

The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan, who visited schools in Worcestershire last year, has today confirmed plans to launch a new National Funding Formula which will end the inequities between different parts of the country and fund schools according to need and what they actually do rather than where they are.

The Government has launched the first stage of a two stage consultation process to determine how funding reform will take place from 2017 and to ensure that a new formula, based on the needs of schools and the pupils that they serve, rather than where they happen to be in the country will work. Robin is urging as many of Worcestershire’s schools as possible to get their own responses in to this formula and he has welcomed the recent publication of the Worcestershire Association of Governors of their own paper on what a national formula should do.

Worcestershire has languished at the bottom of funding league tables consistently and has seen a growing gap between its funding and that of neighbouring areas such as Birmingham over successive years.

Robin first took up the issue of fairer funding after touring local schools as a new candidate in 2006 and finding that they universally suffered from the unfair funding system. He raised it in his maiden speech in Parliament and in numerous debates under the Coalition, helping to secure a £390 million top up investment in the lowest funded areas from which Worcestershire received £6.7 million. However he always made clear that this was just a down-payment on real funding reform and he lobbied hard to win and keep the commitment to fairer funding in the Conservative manifesto for 2015.

Commenting on today’s announcement Robin said:

“If I had to choose one thing that I believe will make a profound long term difference to my constituency this would be it. That is why I spoke about the need for fairer funding in my maiden speech, put it at the heart of my campaigning in my first Parliament and have sought to keep raising the issue both publicly and within the Department. People said that fairer funding was a dream and previous Governments recognised the problem but did nothing to fix it. I am thrilled that a Government I am part of and a Department I am working in will now deliver that dream.”

“I cannot overstate the importance of this opportunity to fix the formula once and for all and to bring in a new era of fair and transparent funding. Today’s announcement is the culmination of not just years, but decades of work by local teachers, head-teachers Governors and parents as well as the cross party f40 campaign and I am delighted that their voice has now been heard.”

“However the campaign must not end here. I need the help of local schools, their heads and their governors to respond to the consultation and make clear the basis on which they feel the new formula must work. We have talked for years about the dream of a needs led activity based formula and this consultation gives our schools the chance to get it. I know how busy and how passionate local teachers and headteachers are and what a phenomenal job they’ve been doing but I also know they won’t want to miss out on the chance to have their say. The consultation will be open until April 17th and I want to make sure Worcestershire’s voice is heard loud and clear within it.”

“School funding might seem like a technical or boring subject and I appreciate it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I know that local schools need this investment and I know the amazing things that they can achieve with it. The Government is protecting the overall schools budget and investing in more places but we need to make sure the money is spent properly and where it is needed most. Please make sure if you care about education, you get involved.”

The consultation can be found here:

https://consult.education.gov.uk/

 

Notes to editors:

 Robin recently published an overview of Education and the importance of fair funding in the Reform magazine the publication for Centre Right think tank the Tory Reform Group, which can be found here:

http://www.trg.org.uk/a-one-nation-approach-to-education/

They also covered his raising of the issue in PMQs in 2011 here: http://toryreformgroup.tumblr.com/post/6336147764/nik-darlington-pmqs-robin-walker-fairer-funding-schools

Robin has campaigned on fairer funding through all his time in parliament and has raised the matter in each and every year of his time as MP for Worcester until becoming PPS to the Education Secretary in 2015.

From 2010 to 2015 Robin was Vice Chairman of the cross party f40 campaign. For more details on the f40 campaign see: http://www.f40.org.uk/

For Robin’s most recent speech on fairer funding and the cross party debate he led visit:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150310/debtext/150310-0003.htm#150310-0003.htm_spnew44

For more detail on Robin’s campaigns on this issue see:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-delighted-as-fairer-funding-for-schools-goal-is-met-in-todays-autumn-statement/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-welcomes-education-secretary-for-talks-with-local-schools-university-after-mps-debate-fairer-funding-once-again/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/low-inflation-and-rising-pupil-numbers-mean-labours-plan-for-schools-would-cut-per-pupil-funding/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-addresses-worcestershire-education-network/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=398997845711c9142662e98a63743830

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=17125d049040cd304eb731bfea717473

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=c95ca28495ba884a1f06d231f58a4c20

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=3c84f14aa1fb7539ac27a99dbdc15567

For his maiden speech in which he first raised the issue of fairer funding see:

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2010-06-08e.230.0vvvv

For details of the Government announcement today and the consultation see below:

Providing educational excellence everywhere is a key part of the government’s mission to extend opportunity to every child. This includes delivering on the manifesto commitment to protect the core schools budget. This will be over £40billion next year, including the pupil premium – funding worth £2.5 billion a year targeted at the most disadvantaged pupils. This is the highest ever level of funding for schools of any government.

But the current system for distributing that funding is outdated, inefficient and unfair – under the current system, a school in one part of the country could receive over 50% more than an identical school with exactly the same children, simply because of an accident of history.

Under proposals published for consultation today the government has started the process of introducing a national funding formula from 2017-18. This represents an important move towards a system where school funding is allocated on a consistent national formula. As part of this, local authorities will receive funding to help with their responsibilities towards young people with high-level special educational needs on a fair and formulaic basis, so that no pupil is disadvantaged simply by where they live.

The plans outlined today will ensure:

–       every school and local area, no matter where they are in the country, is funded fairly – according to need rather than the oddities of history; meaning areas with the highest need will attract the most funding and ensuring that all children get access to the education they deserve; and

–    funding gets straight to the frontline – the current school funding system relies on local authorities determining how much funding schools are allocated. 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.

The Secretary of State said:

“We want every school in England to get the funding it deserves, so that all children – whatever their background and wherever they live in the country – get a great education.

“The introduction of a national funding formula from 2017-18 will see the biggest step towards fairer funding in over a decade – ensuring that pupils get funding that genuinely matches their need. It will also ensure that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds continue to receive significant additional funding to overcome entrenched barriers to their success.”

“This is a key part of our core mission to extend opportunity to all children and provide educational excellence in all parts of the country: rural and urban, shire and metropolitan, north and south.”

“Local authorities will continue to play a vital role in the distribution of high needs funding as they are best placed to make important local decisions about children with special educational needs and disabilities.”

Today’s announcement marks the first stage of the government’s education funding reform consultation process. The consultation proposes that the following factors are considered as part of allocating core schools funding:

  • basic per pupil funding – ensuring a core allocation for the costs of teaching all pupils
  • funding for additional needs – including deprivation, low prior attainment and English as an additional language
  • school costs – including fixed costs and those related to schools serving rural communities
  • area costs – ensuring more funding goes to areas that face the highest costs

Once these key principles have been agreed, a further consultation seeking views on the weighting of these factors will follow.   This second stage consultation will set out full illustrations of the impacts of the funding formulae across schools and local authorities.

There will also be a parallel consultation on a national funding formula for early years funding later this year.

To read more about the new policy see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/nicky-morgan-end-the-demography-of-destiny

http://schoolsweek.co.uk/nicky-morgan-launches-consultation-on-national-fair-funding-formula-for-schools/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/12185408/Councils-to-be-cut-out-of-30bn-funding-under-government-plans-to-empower-schools.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3479749/Rural-schools-fairer-cash-deal-Plans-remove-outdated-inefficient-funding-money-handed-according-pupils-needs-not-area.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35726883

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/mar/07/london-and-inner-city-pupils-could-lose-out-over-changes-to-school-funding