NUT/CPAG figures show Government school funding proposals will hit schools with the poorest children hardest

3 March 2017

New research by NUT and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) using DfE data shows that, under current Government school funding policy, the 1,000 schools with the highest number of children with free school meals are facing much higher cuts in funding per pupil than schools generally.

The NUT has already exposed the fact that the Government's funding freeze will leave 98% of England's schools worse off in real terms, even after its proposed new funding formula. Now, this further research shows that primary schools with over 40% of children on free school meals will on average lose £473 per pupil in real terms, £140 more than the average for primary schools generally. In secondary schools with over 40% of children on free school meals, the average loss per pupil will be £803, a staggering £326 more than the average for secondary schools as a whole.

Nine children in every UK class of 30 are living below the poverty line (60% of median income). Two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one working parent. The IFS projects a 50% increase in child poverty by 2020. The schools with the poorest children, however, will be hit hardest by the Government's funding proposals.

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

"These findings confirm that the Government's proposed funding formula will work for no one unless more money is found. Almost every school is going to be worse off in real terms due to Government funding policies. It is disturbing to find now that the children most in need are in the schools that will be hardest hit. If children who are growing up in poverty do not receive an education that is well resourced and funded then the Government will be seriously threatening their life chances.

"Justine Greening must listen to the many voices that are saying her funding proposals are unfair in the extreme and in need of a complete rethink. Unless additional money is found for all our schools then this country's state education system will be put in jeopardy."

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

"These are shocking figures. If the country – and our education system – is to work for everyone, not just the privileged few, Ministers must reconsider the school funding formula.

"Poverty at home is the strongest statistical predictor of how well a child will do at school. Schools and teachers can help to weaken that link if they have sufficient resources, but these new findings show that schools in the poorest areas would lose most from the Government's proposed new funding formula. That would widen the educational attainment gap and set many of our children up to fail. In the context of the Prime Minister's social justice agenda, that outcome looks perverse.

"Up and down the country there are kids from hard-up households who find the odds are stacked against them both inside and outside the school gates. They may aim high, their parents' and teachers' aspirations may be strong – they may love school – but if there isn't money at home for books, for an extra booster lesson or computer or even space for a homework desk, then they're being denied a fair chance in life."

Editor's Note:

The NUT and CPAG looked at the 997 schools in England where more than 40% of pupils receive free school meals. We compared the predicted funding cuts for these schools with the cuts predicted for schools generally, using the DfE's own forecasts for the impact of the new funding formula and the National Audit Office's predictions for cost increases facing schools. The full data for each school can be found at

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 organisation, united in their campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.

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