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'PRIMARY SCHOOLS ARE BEING SHORT CHANGED BY OVER A THIRD OF ENGLISH LEAs'

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Returns to local education authorities to the Department for Education and Skills, showing the funding position in ...
Returns to local education authorities to the Department for Education and Skills, showing the funding position in the financial year 2004/2005, demonstrate that over a third of English LEAs (55 in total) do not spend up their Primary SFSS (Schools Formula Spending Share) ie the funding intended for pupils in primary schools.

This could be for political reasons (eg council tax) or for other reasons (eg higher priorities as seen by the LEA). But the fact remains that many primary schools are losing out.

Some LEAs only underspend by small percentages as the attached table shows. Many underspend by big margins. The table shows the percentage shortfall in each case and the amount of money a typical 200 pupil primary school has been deprived of because the LEA has failed to spend up to its primary SFSS.

The worst offenders by type of local authority are:

London Borough/Cash Shortfall for 200 Pupil School

Brent£47,800

Islington£47,200

Redbridge£37,200

Metropolitan borough

Oldham£43,400

Manchester£42,600

Bolton£23,400

Sheffield£23,400

County Council

Lincolnshire£37,200

Cambridgeshire£33,000

Wiltshire£28,000

Unitary Authority

Brighton & Hove£39,200

Slough£39,000

Hereford£33,200

Reading£29,800

The reality is that this shortfall amounts to millions of pounds across the 55 LEAs. If examples are taken from each type of authority it is possible to calculate how much the shortfall amounts to across each LEA's total number of primary schools:

LEA/shortfall

Brent£5.3m

Manchester£8.8m

Lincolnshire£10.0m

Reading£1.4m

Further details, including a figures for each LEA can be requested from LGCnet. Tel 0207 347 1832/3.

When the new three-year budgets (promised by the prime minister in his speech at our annual conference last May and now contained in the Education Bill) come into force, from the 2006/2007 financial year, matters will improve. The new ringfenced dedicated three-year budgets will force every LEA to spend at least up to its SFSS by the end of a transitional period.

In the meantime, primary schools, in too many parts of the country, are being expected to deliver major reforms such as the Workload Agreement when their LEAs will not even give them the funding they are entitled to receive.

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary David Hart said:

'The local authority funding system remains a mess, though three-year budgets promise to deliver a better deal for schools. Although nationally across all schools of all types local government spends some£200m over the funding expected of them by government, this masks enormous disparities. In particular, our analysis reveals an appalling position where thousands of primary schools are deprived of urgently needed funding by political or administrative LEA decisions. This makes a mockery of the drive to raise standards for primary pupils and short-changes heads who need the cash to deliver workforce reforms.'

* Claims of under-funding 'wildly misplaced' says Lincolnshire CC

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