The petition of residents of the United Kingdom
Declares that Russell Hall Primary School has seen a decline in funding per pupil and a reduction in the lump sum allocated to the school by almost £65,000 in 2018/19 and by the same in 2019/20; further that the school is facing a significant deficit budget and is having to make staff redundancies to save money, including the reduction of vital frontline teaching staff, the restructure of support staff roles and the end of additional services currently available to children such as the Early Bird Club.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to increase per pupil funding and reverse the cuts made to school budgets.
And the petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Judith Cummins, Official Report, 22 May 2019; Vol. 660, c. 274 .]
Observations from the Minister for School Standards (Nick Gibb):
We recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. The Government have prioritised school spending, even while having to take difficult public spending decisions in other areas. As a result, core funding for schools and high needs has risen from almost £41 billion in 2017-18 to £43.5 billion this year. Funding remains high by historic standards: IFS figures show that real terms per pupil funding for 5 to 16 year olds in 2020 will be more than 50% higher than it was in 2000 and more than 70% higher than in 1990.
Spending plans beyond 2019-20 have not yet been set and naturally, we cannot pre-empt these decisions.
The introduction of the national funding formula (NFF) for schools has delivered on our promise to reform the unfair, opaque and outdated schools funding system. It is now directing money where it is most needed, based on schools’ and pupils’ characteristics, rather than the accidents of geography or history. Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school, while allocating the biggest increases to the schools that have been most underfunded.
The majority of school funding is determined by reference to the pupils attending a school. In addition, the NFF provides every school with a fixed lump sum of £110,000. This lump sum helps schools to manage fluctuations in their funding when pupil numbers or characteristics change. We have set the NFF lump sum at £110,000 because we think it is important to maximise how much funding is determined by the number and characteristics of pupils. The lump sum should be considered as a contribution to the fixed costs that schools are likely to face; it is not intended to match any set of precise costs.
We have provided protection in the NFF so that every school has been allocated an increase of at least 0.5% per pupil in 2018-19 and 1% in 2019-20, over its 2017-18 baseline. While the lump sum in the NFF is lower than the amount Bradford local authority had previously allocated, that has been taken into account in ensuring that every school in Bradford’s final NFF allocation provides least these minimum increases in funding.
In order to smooth the transition towards the NFF, local authorities continue to be responsible for designing the distribution of funding in their areas, which could result in differences between the illustrative NFF allocations and a school’s final budget.
Despite prioritising spending on schools and making the distribution of that funding fairer across the country, we do recognise that budgets remain tight. That is why we are supporting schools and headteachers to make the most of their budgets and reduce costs on things like energy, water bills and materials. In August 2018 we announced the school resource management strategy, which provides schools with practical advice on savings that can be made on the more than £10 billion non-staff spending costs across England last year. The document is available on the gov.uk website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-excellent-school-resource-management.