‘Just about managing’ children hardest hit by proposed education funding cuts, warn unions
Those hardest hit by proposed changes in school funding will be children in families that are “just about managing”, say unions.
The NUT and ATL unions have carried out a new analysis of the proposed figures for 19,719 schools released by the government in its consultation on a national funding formula.
They calculate that primary schools with the least number of children from “just about managing” (JAM) families will lose £297 a year per pupil between 2015/16 and 2019/20, but schools with the highest number of JAM children will lose £447 a year per pupil.
For secondaries, those with the fewest JAM children will lose £489 a year per pupil compared to £658 a year for those with most JAM children. They define the “just about managing” children as those who are not currently receiving free school meals, but have done so in the past six years.
“These are shocking figures that will create despair in schools up and down the country,” said Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT. “Far from being the levelling up of funding that councils and heads have demanded, the government is levelling down and schools across the country face real terms cuts in this parliament.”
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, added: “All the Government’s warm words about protecting the poorest children look meaningless. Many schools are already struggling to make ends meet and are desperately trying to raise money from parents for school books and IT. These cuts will make the situation even more desperate. If the Government doesn’t increase the overall amount of funding for schools, a generation of children will have a severely restricted education with nothing beyond the basic curriculum and thousands of school staff will lose their jobs.”
The unions say that proposed government changes to school funding announced last month are worse than had been expected.
Before the announcement, the unions had jointly launched their own estimates of the impact of the plans on individual institutions, which the government described at the time as “scaremongering”.
Today the ATL and NUT have said:
- They predicted that overall schools funding would be cut by £2.5bn, but the National Audit Office has said it will be £3bn.
- They thought funding would be cut for every pupil in 92 per cent of England’s schools – but on the basis of figures released for the National Funding Formula consultation, 98 per cent of schools will have reduced funding.
- While they had predicted secondary schools would be £365 per pupil worse off in 2020, the proposed figure is now £477 per pupil.
But the government has said that the new figures are “fundamentally misleading”. It says they ignore the fact that pupil numbers are rising rapidly, meaning more money will be going into schools and adds that the proposals include increased funding for pupils with additional needs, which includes a wide definition of deprivation.
“School funding is at its highest level on record and will be over £40bn in 2016-17,” said a government spokesperson. “To suggest that we are taking money out of the system is simply incorrect; we are protecting per pupil funding so where pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will increase.
“We have also set out proposals to end the historic postcode lottery in school funding. The proposed formula would mean, taking into account the pupil premium, that funding for pupils with additional needs would account for over a fifth of the core schools budget.”