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East Ham MP Stephen Timms doesn’t want London schools penalised

PUBLISHED: 13:22 18 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:22 18 May 2016

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The House of Commons recently debated government plans for a national school funding formula from April next year.

Announced by the chancellor last year, it could mean a huge cut of £245 million in London school budgets.

Annual school funding in England is more than £40 billion. Local councils decide how to distribute money between individual schools. Additional money is provided directly by the government, for example through the Pupil Premium.

Critics say the system is a “muddle”. They complain that councils in rural areas don’t get enough money, and that funding for individual schools is arbitrary. Similar schools around the country can get very different budgets.

The new national formula is intended to address these criticisms. There is widespread support for a more transparent funding system.

The so-called “F40” group of councils – the 40 receiving the lowest school funding per pupil – have been campaigning for a national formula. They are mainly rural and mainly Conservative. None are in London.

I complained in the debate that they had been given too much influence, with frequent meetings at the Department for Education when other councils weren’t invited.

Nearly all London councils receive more funding per pupil than the national average, because costs in London are higher and schools face greater challenges. With London’s population rising fast, funding needs to keep up.

As things stand, however, the new system will penalise London schools. The current system includes a “mobility” factor, recognising that school costs are higher when many children change school frequently. Encouraged by the F40, ministers want to drop mobility from the new formula. That would hit London hard.

London MPs of all parties agree that London children should not lose out from the changes.

We will press ministers to recognise the challenges, and provide fair funding for our schools. More from Stephen


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