Schools in Tower Hamlets risk losing out following changes to their funding announced in the Chancellor’s spending review, according to a local headteacher who has warned of a “perfect storm” ahead.
Nick Soar, executive principal of the Bishop Challoner Catholic Federation of Schools in Tower Hamlets spoke out after George Osborne outlined on Wednesday (November 25) plans to introduce a national rate for all pupils to come into force in 2017.
The new formula will bring funding levels across the country, which currently differ widely, into line but NUT has warned that London schools could suffer.
Soar said schools in Tower Hamlets faced becoming “big losers with an estimated 8-16 per cent reduction in funding”. He added that changes in the funding formula “may stymie the excellent record London has in narrowing the gap for disadvantaged pupils”.
Rachael Saunders, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services in Tower Hamlets, echoed his concerns.“The government’s plans could undermine the local authority’s ability to deliver vital education services to young people across the borough,” she said.
Ivan Ould, chair of F40, a national group of the lowest funded education authorities in England, which has fought to have the current “unfair and unsustainable” situation rectified said he was “quietly optimistic” but added: “Until I see the detail I certainly won’t be jumping for joy.”
Spending per pupil in the Tower Hamlets currently stands at £7,014, the highest in England, almost 70 per cent more than the average of £4,208 in the 10 most poorly funded areas.
High levels of funding have improved student behaviour, quality of teaching and attainment, Soar said. It has also “transformed” many disadvantaged pupils’ lives in Tower Hamlets.
Ould said the current system saw wide differences between the amount of funding received by authorities across the UK. He said that between 1997 and 2010 there were percentage increases in funding, “so if you were already well off, you got more well off.” Every year the gap widened and the same schools suffered as a result, he said.