Forthcoming consultation on “fair funding” for schools

November 23rd, 2015 by Tom Cross

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement may be the subject of particularly close attention from local authorities and the governing bodies of maintained schools.

According to a number of mainstream media outlets (see here for the BBC: the Statement will outline “plans to redress differences in school funding across England” following consultation which could begin in the next few months.

The context of the consultation is said to be the overall reductions in school budgets which will be seen in forthcoming years. Reductions across the board will hit some schools more than others. The Government seems to want to work out which areas may be most affected to inform how reductions may be made.

Achieving an overall reduction “fairly” is, of course, no easy task. By what indicators can or should it be assessed that particular schools or areas should receive a proportionately greater share of the diminished purse than others? Can or should they be the same as would be applied if now was a time of rising budgets? And to what extent is redressing differences in the quality of schools purely a financial matter, in any event?

No doubt whatever proposal emerges in due course will have its winners and losers. The BBC predicts that “London boroughs are likely to be among those that will lose out”. And no doubt lawyers in such boroughs, and elsewhere, will be examining the development of proposals closely to consider if there is scope for challenge in the courts.

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