The Government has responded to the funding petition launched in the Autumn Term by the Gateshead Heads’ Forum.
The campaign, which was spearheaded by Andrew Ramanandi, Head Teacher of St Joseph’s Catholic School in Blaydon, has so far gained 62,960 signatures, and earlier this week the Government gave the following response:
We recognise schools are facing budgeting challenges and we are asking them to do more. We have increased funding by an extra £1.3bn across this year and next, over and above previous spending plans.
While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. The total core schools and high needs budget will rise from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn by 2019-20.
Figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that in 2020, per pupil funding for five to sixteen year olds, adjusted for inflation, will be 50% higher than in 2000, and 70% higher than in 1990. We can also compare ourselves favourably to other countries – we spend as much per pupil on state school education as any major economy in the world, with the single exception of the United States of America.
We are also distributing that funding more fairly, through the national funding formula which directs money to where it is most needed, based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics – not accidents of geography or past arrangements. Since 2017, the national funding formula has allocated every local authority more money for every pupil in every school, while allocating the largest increases to the schools that have been most underfunded.
We recently confirmed funding allocations for local authorities through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2019-20. More information on the DSG and a detailed breakdown of funding allocations for each local authority is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dedicated-schools-grant-dsg-2019-to-2020
We also announced that we will provide £250m additional funding for high needs over this financial year and the next. This brings the total allocated for high needs, within the overall core schools budget, to £6.1 billion in 2018-19 and £6.3 billion in 2019-20. We recognise that the high needs budget faces significant pressures and this additional expenditure will help to manage those pressures.
Spending plans beyond 2019-20 will be set at the next Spending Review and naturally we cannot pre-empt these decisions – but we are of course committed to securing the right deal for education.
Despite all of this, we do recognise that budgets remain tight. That is why we are supporting schools and head teachers to make the most of their budgets and reduce costs on things like energy, water bills and materials.
Department for Education
Commenting on the Government’s response, Mr Ramanandi said: “The concern has always been that schools are not funded sufficiently currently, and this response acknowledges that ‘budgets are tight’. Schools are already working collaboratively to make efficiency savings. The scale of projected savings that schools will need to make to avoid deficit budgets go well beyond savings that could be made ‘on things like energy, water bills and materials.’
“The petition was set up to empower the DfE to pressure the Treasury to fund schools adequately ahead of the spending review. The response states that the DfE are ‘committed to securing the right deal for education’ and this shows the positive impact the petition has had.
“I hope that the ever-increasing number of signatories on our petition will support the DfE in securing sufficient and adequate funding for our schools.
“If you are a Head Teacher and this strikes a chord, then please sign our petition and consider encouraging the parents of your pupils to sign it too.
“If you are a Teacher or a Teaching Assistant and you are concerned about what you and your school are able to provide, then please sign our petition and ask your friends and family to sign as well.
“If you are a Governor being asked to make untenable decisions, then please sign our petition and support your Head Teacher in sharing this message.
“If you are a parent, grandparent, aunty or uncle and are concerned about the impact on the quality of education afforded to the children in your family, then please sign our petition to protect their future.
“If you feel that Government should fund schools sufficiently and fairly, and want to have your voice heard, then please add your name to our petition ‘Increase Funding for Schools’.
“If you feel that Government should fund schools sufficiently and fairly, and have already added your name to our petition, please amplify your voice by encouraging your family and friends to do so too.”