Backbench MPs call for action on school funding


There is renewed hope that the huge inequalities in school per-pupil funding across the country will be tackled during this Parliament.

It comes after a group of backbench Conservative MPs have put their support behind the f40 campaign group, which is seeking funding reform.

The MPs, many of whom represent areas which are among the worst-funded, reportedly want changes in the national funding formula to be detailed in July’s Budget ready for inclusion in next year’s spending round.

Earlier this year, an analysis by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), found that for 2015/16 an average school in the 10 best-funded areas will receive £1.92 million more than one in the 10 worst-funded areas.

In the 10 best-funded areas, the average per-pupil grant for 2015/16 will be £6,297 – compared to just £4,208 in the 10 worst-funded areas.

While the funding system does take into account levels of deprivation and things like London weighting, the differences are also due to historical factors going back as far as the 1980s, when government grants were allocated to local authorities according to the amount they had traditionally spent on education. In 2015/16, the worst-funded areas will be:

  1. Wokingham: £4,158 per-pupil 

  2. Poole: £4,194 

  3. South Gloucestershire: £4,196 

  4. Stockport: £4,206 

  5. West Sussex: £4,206 

  6. Cheshire East: £4,209 

  7. York: £4,209

The f40 campaign group represents some of the lowest funded local authorities and has been working on proposals for a reformed national funding formula.

A statement on the f40 website says: “League tables showing the funding of all authorities in England clearly show how disadvantaged the poorest funded authorities are compared with those who are better funded. Despite minor changes to the funding system, the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ has widened.”

During the last Parliament, the Department for Education allocated an additional £390 million to the worst-funded areas, but the MPs and campaigners say this is not enough.

Speaking to the BBC, Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said the issue would be a priority for backbench MPs in the coming months. 

School leaders said the need for funding reform was becoming urgent.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Schools face an incredibly challenging financial climate, with real-terms cuts in income and large increases in costs. We need the system to be funded properly but we also need the amount distributed fairly. We support the development of a fair national funding formula. It will be challenging but the time is right to grasp the nettle.” 

Malcolm Trobe, ASCL’s deputy general secretary, added: “We have pressed politicians of all parties to introduce a new National Fair Funding Formula to make the system of allocation more equitable and ensure that all schools have sufficient funding to meet their needs. This is one of our top priorities.

“However, a new funding formula has to be planned and introduced with great care to ensure that it is fair to all. It must produce per-pupil funding that is sufficient, sustainable and equitable, including weighting for disadvantaged areas. 

Visit the f40 website at


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