Debate on e-petition relating to school funding, House of Commons, 4 March 2019

"We remain concerned that the introduction of the NFF, combined with changes to High Needs Funding, will exacerbate existing shortfalls in funding to support children and young people with SEND."


Key messages

  • All children deserve access to the best possible education. Data shows that council-maintained schools receive better Ofsted ratings, and improve more quickly, than academy schools. Analysis undertaken on behalf of the LGA found that ninety-one per cent of maintained schools are now rated as either good or outstanding.
  • We were pleased that the Government recognised LGA concerns and announced in July 2017 that an additional £1.3 billion would be allocated to schools during 2018-19 and 2019-20. We also welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment of £400 million for schools in England last year to spend on equipment and facilities and the additional investment of £350 million across 2018/21 on high needs provision. While piecemeal amounts of additional school funding are welcome, the Government must replace the existing highly fragmented school capital funding system with a single local funding pot.
  • While introduction of the National Funding Formula (NFF) will see the budgets of 22,000 schools set in Whitehall, we are pleased that until 2020 at least, councils and schools will retain some flexibility to agree a slightly different allocation to reflect local needs and circumstances.
  • We remain concerned, however, that the introduction of the NFF, combined with changes to High Needs Funding, will exacerbate existing shortfalls in funding to support children and young people with SEND.
  • Councils are telling us that pressures on the High Needs funding block is one of the most serious financial challenges that they are currently dealing with. We have therefore commissioned research to look at the scale of the high needs funding pressures facing councils .
  • The research was undertaken on behalf of the LGA by the Isos Partnership. It found that councils are facing a high needs funding shortfall of £472 million in the 2018-19 financial year and this funding gap could rise to £1.6 billion by 2021.
  • The Government should take advantage of councils' position in the community in order to give them a clear and strategic role in school improvement and holding schools to account for education standards. Councils know their local schools best and are uniquely placed to offer up to date local knowledge. Local government must be empowered to help all schools improve where necessary, including academies and free schools. Councils should also have a clear role in decisions on the location of new academies and free schools.
  • Over recent years councils have created an extra 800,000 new school places. This is a demonstrable record that shows they are doing everything they can to rise to the challenge of ensuring no child goes without a place. Councils and schools work extremely hard to try and ensure that as many pupils as possible are allocated their first preference.

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Debate on e-petition relating to school funding, House of Commons, 4 March 2019