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Digest: Call for clarity over schools funding

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Setting 22,000 school budgets from Whitehall will not work and councils must retain some flexibility over the distribution of schools funding in their areas, the Local Government Association has warned.

The call for clarity on the proposed new national formula for schools funding follows commitments in last week’s Queen’s Speech to a fair funding arrangement for all schools. Before the election the government consulted on the controversial formula that would have seen hundreds of schools worse off but it is not clear how the new government intends to proceed.

Yesterday education secretary Justine Greening confirmed the government would not be pressing ahead with its manifesto commitment to open new grammar schools.

While the LGA does not object to the principle of a national formula it is warning ministers that its strict application will see councils lose the ability to work with headteachers and governors to adapt to local circumstances, such as providing additional support to small rural schools.

There is also concern about the proposed changes to high-needs funding which will reduce flexibility to make additional funding available where there are rising demand pressures for special educational needs and disability support.

Richard Watts (Lab), chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Currently, there is a real fear amongst councils that a strict national funding formula will not reflect local need and that children could potentially miss out on receiving the education they deserve.

“The government should allow councils to have some flexibility over how the national formula is implemented locally to ensure the widest possible success and acceptance.

“The government should make clear its intentions for school funding so that councils can get on with the job of providing a decent education for our children.” 

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