UK: Budget Boosts for Middle Class Schools

New research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies indicates a new winner/loser culture could exist under the biggest shake-up of education funding in 20 years.

The coalition’s efforts to overhaul cash allocations for schools in England will create large numbers of “financial winners and losers” reveals Graeme Paton at the Telegraph.

A new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says that one-in-six schools could see funding cuts of 10 per cent of more as a result of the reforms, while one-in-10 are likely to receive around 10 per cent more money.

The study also found that some areas would be hit harder than others, with schools in what is regarded as some of the poorest regions of England losing out while the biggest winners could include parts traditionally seen as much better off.

“Primary and secondary schools in Coventry, Liverpool, North East Lincolnshire, Wigan and Wolverhampton would see average falls of six per cent or more…while primary and secondary schools in Derbyshire, Islington and Warwickshire would see average increases of six per cent or more,” it said.

Teachers’ leaders believe that any decision to cut funding would result in schools being forced to sack teachers, increase class sizes and even drop subjects in some cases. They did, however, admit that the funding system was in need of a major overhaul.

Luke Sibieta, the think-tank’s senior research economist, said: “There is little doubt that the school funding system merits reform.

“An explicit national formula offers significant advantages, including simplicity, transparency and responsiveness of school funding.”

Funding for schools in the present model is fairly regionalist. Local authorities are able to award their institutions as they see fit. But this has historically created areas that are “over-funded on average” compared to other counties.

The new model proposed by the Government will look to replacing “the myriad and complex local authority formulae with one centrally set national funding formula”, the IFS said. But a drawback, the IFS believes, is that it will create a culture of winners and losers.

A Department for Education spokesman said:

“The IFS report is based on its own assumptions of what a funding formula might look like. The consultation on school funding closed last month and ministers are considering its responses carefully before deciding how to proceed.

“No decisions have yet been made on a future school funding system.”

Malcolm Trobe, from the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We want a fair and equitable funding formula. But any attempt to make a wholesale shift from one sector to another – or one part of the country to another – is going to cause significant difficulties.”

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