School funding is at its highest level on record and will stand at over £40 billion in 2016-17. This has been achieved at a time when spending in most other areas of Government activity (but excluding health and overseas aid) has been cut as the Government continues to tackle the catastrophic budget deficit of £158 billion it inherited in 2010. The core schools budget has been protected in real terms since 2010, as well as per pupil funding in cash terms, which means that as pupil numbers increase so will the money our schools receive. Further investment of £190 million has also been announced to provide additional support to underperforming schools to ensure the number of good school places available to our children continues to rise. I have been assured that it is not the case that money is being taken out of the school system.
There is currently a historic and opaque postcode lottery in school funding which is unfair and outdated. The existing system is so inconsistent that it can put similar children in similar schools at an unfair educational disadvantage, so the Government has decided that it is time for this system to be reformed.
You may be aware that views are now being sought on the more detailed design of the national funding formula to ensure that, with the help of the sector, it gets the formula right and I will be closely scrutinising the impact on Aldershot. The aim of the proposals for funding reform is to ensure that all schools and local authority areas across the country receive a consistent and fair share of the schools budget. This would mean that every child will have the best possible chance to fulfil their potential, regardless of their background or where they live.
I recognise that schools are facing increasing cost pressures from salary increases, increases to employers' National Insurance and Teachers' Pension Scheme contributions. The national funding formula is intended to give schools greater certainty about their funding and allow them to plan ahead effectively. I am also encouraged that there are measures in place to help schools make the most of their money. You may be aware that a range of online resources have recently been developed to support schools' financial health and spending efficiency. A school buying strategy has also been launched which will help schools save over £1 billion per year by 2019-20 on their non-staff spending. These will support schools and local authorities to transition to the fairer funding formula, while making the best use of resources and managing cost pressures.
I repeat that the Government is continuing to consult on this important matter. If you would like to share your views on the proposed reforms I strongly encourage you to scrutinise the detailed consultation documents and respond to the second stage of the consultation. You can do so here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula2/