The letter, which was masterminded by f40 Vice Chair, Graham Stuart MP, was handed over yesterday in the House of Commons. It calls on the government to implement a fairer funding formula along the lines of proposals prepared by f40 which, from 2017-18, would see funding geared towards improving educational standards rather than, the campaign says, perpetuating an inequitable system.
David Mackintosh, MP for Northampton South, Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry, and Tom Pursglove, MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire) all signed the letter.
Under the current system, the ten best funded areas of England will receive an average grant of £6,297 per pupil this year, compared to an average of just £4,208 per pupil in the ten most poorly funded areas.
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f40 chairman, Ivan Ould said: “This irrational and unfair allocation arrangement has to change. School funding has become more and more unfair over time, and the inconsistencies in funding for individual schools with similar characteristics across the country are too great.
“f40, which represents the lowest funded authorities in England, wants to see the introduction of a new national funding formula. This would be a transformative achievement for pupils in low funded authorities and that is why f40 is maintaining the pressure on the government to deliver what it has promised.
“In recent months, f40’s financial team has developed proposals and discussed them with experts in the Department for Education. This joint working has been extremely productive and there is significant agreement about what needs to be done…and by when.
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s fulfilment of his promise to baseline the £390m extra cash given to some of the worst funded local authorities to boost school budgets in 2015-16, and this will now be included in future years budgeting. That has always been viewed by f40 members and the government as merely a down-payment to help narrow the funding gap whilst a new national funding formula was agreed and implemented. We now need a commitment for the start of the introduction of that new formula.”
Graham Stuart added “The fact that so many MPs have signed this letter on a cross-party basis shows the strength of feeling in favour of school funding reform. This is about bringing an end to an arbitrary and unfair system – it’s not about rural versus urban, or Conservative vs Labour, it’s about bringing order from chaos.
“The Government deserves credit for promising to act and now is the time to deliver a rational, needs-based funding settlement.
“At a time when the Department for Education is considering its options, we want the Government to be in no doubt that our constituents deserve swift and comprehensive funding reform to deliver fairness for their children.
“The f40 group has campaigned tirelessly to raise the profile of this issue and has made sensible suggestions about how a new funding formula could be introduced.
“In the meantime our campaign is continuing with Parliamentary petitions being coordinated by f40 MPs with the help of local authorities and schools to let people have their say. We won’t rest until we have delivered fair funding for English schools.”