Government accused of bottling school funding changes

By Ian Dipple 29/03 Updated: 30/03 13:41

THE GOVERNMENT has been accused of failing the county's schoolchildren after it revealed reform of school funding will be delayed until after the next general election.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced on Monday (March 26) while the Government accepted the current system was unfair, a new national funding formula could not be introduced before 2015 to ensure the impact of the changeover on schools was minimal saying 'In the current economic climate, stability must be a priority'.

The move angered campaigners of the f40 group - made up of the poorest funded education authorities in the country including Worcestershire and Warwickshire - which had hoped the changes would be introduced as soon as 2013.

The group have been pushing for 18 years for changes to the way schools are funded claiming the present system is historic and not based on need. In 1998 Worcestershire received £230 less per pupil than the national average and £380 per pupil less than neighbouring Birmingham. The gap has now grown to £482 less per pupil than the national average and £1,088 per pupil less than the second city. The gap between the richest and poorest education authorities, Tower Hamlets and Leicester, is over £3,600.

The proposed new formula would see every pupil given a basic amount of money with extra funds allocated to account for factors such as deprivation, higher wage costs and to protect small schools.

Helen Donovan, Worcestershire resident and f40 campaigner, said the Government had 'bottled' the decision.

"I'm absolutely disgusted. Our children have been penalised for far too long as it is and it is about time they did something about it and to say they won't do anything until after the next election is outrageous and unacceptable," she told the Standard.

"The current system is grotesquely unfair and the situation gets worse and worse every year and has done for the last 20 years."

She also criticised the Government's pupil premium claiming without reform of the funding formula it had only made the situation worse.

The Lenches MP Karen Lumley said she was disappointed with the delay and would continue to push for changes to be introduced sooner rather than later.

"I am disappointed at the length of time it is going to take but at least we have a government which is going to do it. Those in Tower Hamlets want it equalised out over 20 years and we want it next week so it is a complicated thing to sort out. If you have been used to a budget of £300,000 you can't just say from April you're only going to get £150,000. It's got to be done so authorities that have to take the hit are not going to be impacted on overnight.

"At least the pupil premium is providing more money directly into schools for some of the most deprived areas of Redditch."

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