As well as wrecking the public finances for a generation, the last Labour government also built up some major financial inequalities and unfairness in the allocation of government funding. This included school funding where Crawley and West Sussex increasingly lost out to schools in Labour heartlands in the north of England and inner London.
Addressing these severe imbalances, especially while working to repair the public finances has proved to be difficult, as no one wants to pull the rug from under the best funded schools by sharply reducing their funding. The good news is that last week, the Education Secretary set out the introduction of a new fairer funding formula for schools that will end the postcode lottery in funding.
For the first time, the money the Conservative government are investing in schools will be distributed according to a formula based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country. Alongside the extra £1.3 billion being announced for schools, it will mean an increase in the basic amount of funding that every pupil gets. As an area that lost out under the previous system, my understanding is that this will work out at an average funding increase of 10.3% for Crawley schools.
The Conservative government will introduce a minimum per pupil funding level, so that all secondary schools will attract at least £4,600 per pupil and primary schools £3,300 per pupil next year. This will rise to at least £4,800 per secondary school pupil and £3,500 per primary school pupil in 2019/20.
While Crawley does well out of the fairer funding formula, It is important to note that there will also be a cash increase in respect of every school nationally, of at least 0.5% more per pupil in 2018-19 and 1% in 2019-20 compared to today’s baseline. All of our children should receive the education they deserve regardless of wherever they live, and it is good to see that there are now 1.8 million more pupils being educated in officially good or outstanding schools since 2010. Fairer and increased funding should see this rise still further.