Stark funding gap remains between schools in Devon and London

children playing school

Posted on: 16 January 2018

Education chiefs in Devon are renewing their campaign for fair funding for schools with a detailed dossier on the stark funding gap that still exists with the South East.

They’ve produced figures for Devon schools detailing how much better off they would be if they were situated in London.

And they’re being delivered to Devon MPs by the county’s schools chiefs on a visit to Westminster today. (Tues)

The Government’s new national funding formula will mean an extra £7.5 million for schools in Devon next year.

But they will still be left £268 per pupil short of the national average.

Now Devon’s Cabinet member for schools, James McInnes, head of education and learning, Dawn Stabb, chair of the Devon Association of Primary Heads, Paul Walker and Rob Haring, from Ivybridge on behalf of the Devon Association of Secondary Heads, are meeting the county’s MPs to brief them on the latest figures and how the new formula breaks down.

And they are seeking an early meeting with the new Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, to keep up the pressure on the Government.

The new figures produced by Devon finance chiefs compare schools in Devon with Hackney and Westminster. They’ve been chosen because Hackney has higher funding and high levels of pupils with additional educational needs and Westminster has higher funding but lower levels of additional needs.

Differentials such as rates and the extra paid to London schools to cover London-weighted salaries have been stripped out.

Even so, primary schools in Hackney still get 19.6 per cent more funding than Devon and primary schools in Westminster get six per cent more.

For secondary schools the differential is 31.9 per cent in Hackney and 13.8 per cent in Westminster.

A typical secondary school in Hackney would get £588 per pupil more than a secondary school in North Devon with a similar catchment and deprivation index.

A primary school in Exeter gets £160 per pupil less than a similar primary in Hackney. Both examples exclude London weighting.

Mr McInnes said: “We’ve campaigned hard with parents and schools to get fairer funding for Devon’s children.

“This year there’ll be £7.5 million extra for Devon’s schools and more the year after. That’s on top of the extra £16 million a year we achieved in 2015.

“But this still isn’t enough to bring Devon’s schools up to anywhere near the national average and – once again – our region loses out to the Home Counties so we make no apologies for continuing our campaign for fair funding with the Government.

“There is no doubt that Devon schools are facing tough times financially.

“They still have to find extra money for pay rises, increased National Insurance contributions and the Apprenticeship Levy, amongst other pressures. And the Government keeps on suggesting schools take on added responsibilities. The latest is more training for children on social media. That’s a good idea but all these extra responsibilities cost money to deliver.

“So the funding per pupil within Devon is failing to keep pace with rising costs.

“And every year this continues, it becomes increasingly harder for our schools to maintain good standards of education.

“This is particularly so for children who have additional educational needs.

“The Government is increasing our high needs budget for our most vulnerable children by £300,000 in 2018/19.

“This is welcome but it will in no way compensate for all the extra pressures that we face in caring for our children with special education needs.

“The Government has increased the upper age range at which children with special needs can stay in education and we have had a big increase in those children who are medically unfit to attend school.

“But we are not receiving extra financial support to provide the extra facilities they need.”

The Devon campaign was today (Mon) backed by the Devon Education Forum which consists of heads, governors and other education representatives.

They said a minimum of £4 million extra was needed for special needs.

They said schools had been very prudent in the past in framing their budgets but there was no spare cash in the system.

Redundancies were having to be made and that affected the quality of education that schools could provide.

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