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f40 sets out new brief for fair school funding

The group has outlined its position on the NFF and will be campaigning for a slew of new services and funding options

f40 – a group that has fought for fair funding in English schools for over two decades – has published a briefing paper which outlines its current position in relation to the national funding formula for schools. Following the introduction of the government’s new national funding formula (NFF) in April this year, f40 has reviewed its position and, in response, agreed the main elements of future campaigning aimed at achieving further improvements to the formula.

Ivan Ould, chair of the group and lead member for children and families at Leicestershire County Council, said: “f40 welcomed the government’s commitment via the NFF to a fairer system for allocating school funding, and the extra £1.3bn made available for schools between 2018-20.

“But f40 has fundamental concerns about the NFF and believes it has failed to deliver the level of fairness of funding allocation that is required and there is unanimous recognition within our membership that there is still more work to do to tackle remaining locked-in inequalities.

“Implementation of the NFF has clearly had more to do with stability and the protection of schools against loss, rather than creating a fairer funding system across all schools and local authorities. We contend that an additional ‘F’ is required to create a new NFFF – a National Fair Funding Formula.

“In essence the government failed to effectively deal with the core problems associated with the fair funding of our schools. Therefore, the job isn’t finished and f40 has no choice but to continue to campaign for further change to assist our schools with very low levels of funding.”

To summarise the briefing paper, f40 will be campaigning for the following:

  • A significant increase in the amount of money invested in education funding in order to meet the cost pressures facing all schools. f40 is awaiting access to Department of Education datasets in order to be able to calculate the exact shortfall.
  • An index-linked activity-led formula to be used for ensuring sufficient funding in the system and to define what the proportion for additional educational needs should be, particular regarding policy changes in the system to enable schools to meet post-Brexit needs.
  • One National Funding Formula without the need for Minimum Funding Levels (MFL) and long-term locked-in protections. The MFL, if it remains, should take account of the additional educational needs (AEN) of schools and be fairly applied to support the different levels of AEN.
  • Continued flexibility to move funding to support specific local issues or organisational requirements.
  • The setting out of plans for the funding formula from 2020 onwards. Schools need to know whether there will be sufficient funding in the education budget, and when government will move to a system of direct funding to schools rather than via local authorities.
  • The establishment of ongoing 3-4 year budget settlements for schools which are inflation-proofed and include funding for cost-of-living increases.
  • Additionally, f40 is asking for:
    • An increased in capital funding to meet additional demand for specialist places.
    • Promotion of inclusive behaviours in schools which would need ti include national support for making cultural change.
    • A review of the early years national formula to ensure it’s fit for use.
    • Clarity regarding the way that the Central schools Services Block will work.

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