Some schools “are in danger of financial collapse” after the government’s promise of a fairer funding system was put back by a year.
Such was the message from the Association of School and College Leaders after education secretary Justine Greening announced today (July 21) that the national funding formula would come into play in 2018/19 rather than 2017/18.
Mrs Greening told MPs teachers felt the formula was “a once in a generation opportunity for an historic change” and added it was important for the government to “get our approach right”.
She proposed a further consultation in the autumn and said: “We will run a full consultation, and make final decisions early in the new year.
“Given the importance of consulting widely and fully with the sector and getting implementation right, the new system will apply from 2018 to 2019.”
She made no mention of offering interim funding to help the more poorly funded authorities, such as West Sussex, bridge the gap.
Julia Harnden, funding specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “While we understand the government’s reasons for delaying the introduction of a new funding formula, we are extremely disappointed that no interim support has been put in place for the lowest-funded schools in the lowest-funded areas.
“The financial situation in these schools is already critical because of huge increased cost pressures and the delay in the introduction of the new funding formula is potentially catastrophic.
“Additional financial support must be put in place for 2017/18 for these schools and the government has to understand the urgency of this situation.
“Through no fault of their own, and despite exemplary leadership, some schools are in danger of financial collapse.”
Each year, the government provides schools with a certain amount of money per pupil – but the amounts vary wildly, with West Sussex receiving one of the lowest grants in the country and East Sussex falling well short of the national average.
As a result, schools have struggled to balance their budgets as expenses such as pension contributions continue to rise.
Every headteacher in West Sussex signed their name to the Worth Less? campaign for fairer funding and extra cash to help them make ends meet before the new system came into play.
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