NUT/CPAG research confirms that schools with the poorest children will be hit hardest by the Government's school funding proposals

NUT Conference 2017

18 April 2017 

New research by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), using DfE data, has confirmed that schools with the poorest children face much greater cuts in funding per pupil than schools generally under the Government's National Funding Formula (NFF) proposals.

Analysis of DfE data published on the www.schoolcuts.org.uk website has already shown that 99% of schools in England will receive less money per pupil in real terms even after the implementation of the proposed NFF.

This further NUT/CPAG research ranks schools according to the three most common measures of deprivation and shows that whatever deprivation measure is used, the schools with the most deprived students lose considerably more than the most affluent schools.

Basing the analysis on the Government's IDACI (income deprivation affecting children) Index, the primary schools with the most deprived pupils will lose £519 per pupil on average, while the most deprived secondary schools will lose £757 per pupil.  This compares to only £355 per pupil for the least deprived primary schools and £476 per pupil for the least deprived secondary schools.

Based on the incidence of pupils receiving free school meals (FSM), the primary schools with most children on FSM will lose £530 per pupil on average compared to £351 for the primary schools with fewest pupils on FSM.  For secondary schools, the corresponding figures are £794 and £524 respectively.

Finally, based on the incidence of pupils receiving free school meals during the past six years (FSM6), the primary schools with the most such pupils will lose £550 per pupil on average compared to £342 for the primary schools with the fewest such pupils.  For secondary schools, the corresponding figures are £853 and £533 respectively.

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“These are disturbing figures of which no Government could be proud. Wilfully pressing ahead with funding changes that would disadvantage the poorest pupils without finding additional funding would be scandalous.

“In schools serving the most disadvantaged communities, there will be no possibility of asking parents for donations. Nor will those families be able to fill in the gaps when schools reduce the curriculum, stop school trips and cut back on resources and materials.

“The Government must listen to the parents, head teachers, governors and politicians who are all saying that its funding policy must change. The Public Accounts Committee called the Government's belief that schools can make such savings from their budgets a ‘collective delusion.’ They are right. Money has to be found for our schools. Failure to do so will be catastrophic for society.”

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group said:

“In recent days Ministers have been emphatic about not wanting any child to be defined by the circumstances of their birth. But the new funding formula risks entrenching disadvantaged children in hardship.   

“Currently nine children in every classroom lives under the poverty line. Their poverty will be the strongest statistical predictor of how those children do at school. A policy that takes disproportionately more from their schools, than from schools in better off areas, can surely have no place in a  country – and an education system – that works for everyone.”

Editor’s Notes:

On average, there are nine children in every UK class of 30 living below the poverty line (60% of median income).  The IFS projects a 50% increase in child poverty by 2020.  The NUT/CPAG research shows that schools with the poorest children will be hit hardest by the Government’s funding proposals.

The data on funding cuts for all schools can be found at www.schoolcuts.org.uk which uses the DfE’s forecasts for individual schools' funding per pupil in cash terms following the implementation of the proposed new funding formula, and the National Audit Office’s predictions for cost increases facing schools, in order to produce forecasts for individual schools' funding per pupil in real terms compared to now.

The NUT/CPAG research looked at the data for schools in England ranked in the top and bottom decile for pupils receiving free school meals; schools in the top and bottom decile of deprivation according to the Government's IDACI (income deprivation affecting children) index; and schools in the top and bottom decile for pupils receiving free school meals at any point in the last six years, a commonly used measure in local authorities’ school funding formulae.

Other Notes:

The Public Accounts Committee, School standards at risk from significant financial pressures, 29 March 2017:https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news-parliament-2015/financial-sustainability-schools-report-published-16-17/

CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.  CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty coalition, which has members from across civil society including children’s charities, faith groups, unions and other civic sector organisations, united in their campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.

The NUT is the largest teachers' organisation in the UK.  In September, the NUT and ATL will form the National Education Union (NEU), which will become the fourth largest trade union in the UK and the largest teachers' organisation in Europe.

The NUT’s Annual Conference is taking place this Easter weekend in Cardiff. For the Final Agenda, please visit https://www.teachers.org.uk/sites/default/files2014/nut-final-agenda-2017-13068.pdf

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