The Government announcement [Monday] of an additional £1.3billion for schools has been welcomed as ‘the first piece of good news on funding in seven years’.
The plans include a new minimum per pupil funding limit at £4,800, with Education Secretary Justine Greening calling it a ‘significant investment’. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said it represents a real-terms freeze on school budgets for the next two years.
Headmaster of The Judd School, Robert Masters, told the Times: “This is the first piece of good news on funding in seven years, during which government funding has been flat, with no increases to match inflation or salary increases.
“To manage this situation at Judd, we have increased our student numbers by nearly 20 per cent, whilst staffing has barely changed. “As one of the lowest funded schools in Kent, The Judd School should benefit from the new safety net of a minimum of £4,800 per pupil per year, not including the sixth form, and we should see an increase of around two per cent in our annual budget.
“This is enough to stabilise the situation in regard to inflation, so it is a welcome first step, but the momentum needs to be maintained. In order to see this rise at school level it will require the local authority (KCC) to adapt its funding formula to ensure the additional money reaches the schools for whom it is intended.”
The money is coming from savings made elsewhere in the education budget, with £280million cut from the free schools budget.
The Head of Skinners’ School in Tunbridge Wells, Edward Wesson, was more sceptical in his analysis.
“It is good to see the Government recognise that there is a need for some reverse to years of cuts in schools’ budgets. However, rather like the pre-election National Funding Formula, I will wait to see what it actually means for my school before getting my hopes up too much.”
Acting Headteacher of Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys Simon Marsh was equally cautious.
“Although I welcome any move towards ensuring that per pupil funding is properly protected in real terms, the devil will be in the detail – not least as it is clear that no additional funding is being provided for education but rather reallocated from the current education budget,” he said.