Unfair funding formula threatens rural schools

For immediate release

Tuesday 28 March 2017 

Rural schools are losing out because an unfair funding formula has created inconsistencies in the amount of money received by similar schools depending on their location, the Rural Services Network [1] has warned.

A national funding formula allocating the same funding for all mainstream pupils nationally would resolve the problem, said the RSN in response [2] to a government consultation on the issue [3].

Without it, a child could attract very different levels of funding if he or she attended a school on one side of a local authority boundary rather than another, the RSN said.

RSN chief executive Graham Biggs MBE said: "Schools in low funded areas have inevitably had to prioritise meeting their core costs and have struggled to improve outcomes for vulnerable pupils as a consequence of the unfair funding formula."

Mr Biggs added: "Fairer funding would enable schools to be judged fairly on the outcomes their pupils achieve."

The RSN has commended the government for honouring its commitment to introduce fairer funding for all children in state schools in England – but warns that some poorly funding schools may still lose out.

The RSN said four key elements of the government proposals needed to be re-considered:-

    * The proportion of weighting given to additional needs rather than basic entitlement

    * The 3% funding floor, which 'locks in' historical differences

    * The amount invested in education funding and the cost pressures facing all schools.

    * The weakness of evidence used to support the proposals

Mr Biggs said: "The government's proposals fall short of what was expected, will not deliver true fairness and, therefore, are in need of substantial revision."

The government initially promised a new national funding formula for 2017-18 – but this was delayed and the implementation date for a new formula is now not expected until 2018-19.

Notes to Editors:

[1] The Rural Services Network seeks to provide a voice for rural communities by representing rural services, networking between rural service organisations and establishing and broadcasting best practice in rural service provision. It comprises SPARSE Rural, the Rural Assembly, the wider Rural Services Partnership and the RSN Community Group. The organisation works with Rural England, a stand-alone CIC research group. For details, visit www.rsnonline.org.uk.

[2] The RSN's full response to the consultation can be downloaded at http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/images/files/ConsultationResponse-SchoolsFunding-March2017.pdf.

[3] The government's consultation can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/schools-national-funding-formula-stage-2.

Media contact:

Graham Biggs
Rural Services Network
T: 01588 674 922
M: 07966 790197
E: graham.biggs@sparse.gov.uk



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