Teachers fear school budgets in Tower Hamlets could be slashed by £33 million if a new funding scheme is introduced.
Figures by the National Union of Teachers also reveal schools in Hackney could lose almost £26 million under the same scheme proposed by the Tories.
The National Funding Formula would mean that finances would go straight to the schools, as opposed to the current system where funding is allocated through local authorities.
It is claimed that the NFF would make funding per pupil more balanced throughout the nation. It would affect only the funding of mainstream schools with a separate formula for schools with nurseries and sixth forms.
Despite the fact that the Tory manifesto pledged to increase overall school funding by £4billion by 2022 and promised not to cut any school budgets, the NFF is set to be implemented in September 2019. Estimates show that many inner city schools are likely see their budget decline with Hackney and Tower Hamlets being among those hit hardest by the reform.
Andrew Wood, a Conservative councillor in Tower Hamlets, told Eastlondonlines: “In Tower Hamlets we have become complacent about how good our primary schools are. They have made rapid and sustained progress from their low-point in the 1990s but I worry now that they are now coasting as people think: job done.
“Only 18 per cent of our primary age children [in Tower Hamlets] go to a school rated Outstanding by OFSTED, the average is 25 per cent across London, and it is up to 37 per cent in some London boroughs. But our schools continue to receive the highest funding per pupil in the country. We know from our exam results that our children are ‘Outstanding’ but imagine what they could achieve if they went to better schools?”
A campaign set up by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), schoolcuts.org, has calculated what schools could lose once the NFF is implemented. The website proposed that Tower Hamlets could lose over £33 million in the years following its implementation, which is the equivalent of 891 teachers (based on an average teacher’s salary of £37,250).
The same website demonstrates how Hackney could lose almost £26 million overall or the equivalent of 692 teachers by the same measure. Both Tower Hamlets and Hackney are boroughs with high rates of child poverty and among those affected worst by the proposed reform.
Darren Martin, a Liberal Democrat representative from Hackney, told ELL: “In all the talk of ‘real term cuts’ and ‘funding formulas’ what gets lost is that what we are really talking about is children’s right to get the best education possible. Of course, money needs to be invested elsewhere in the country but that should not come at the expense of children in areas such as Hackney.
“It really exposes the heart of the Tory Cruel Britannia agenda that they would jeopardise the education of children in places like Hackney just so they can avoid investing more money into the education system. The fact they do this while announcing more money for grammar and free schools just adds insult to injury.”
Under the current system, the Schools Block Unit of Funding (SBUF) funding is allocated to local authorities, who in turn divide it among local schools but because of historical allocation, some local authorities receive more than others.
This system was changed by introducing the Central Schools Block (CSB), which is meant to even out funding by calculating a lump sum per school. This money will still be assigned to schools through the local authority.
Since 2011-2012, Tower Hamlets has been the highest funded local authority per pupil. This year Tower Hamlets’ allowance per pupil was £6,906, a difference of £2,914 per pupil compared to the lowest funded authority, Wokingham.
Many urban areas receive more funding because there are higher levels of deprivation, more ethnic minorities and higher staffing costs. In 2003 after the ‘school funding crisis’ the Department for Education (DfE) introduced a minimum rise in their funding per pupil.
The DfE then introduced the Dedicated Schools Grant, which was made up of a ring-fenced budget for all local authorities. The department also pledged that no school would receive less funding per pupil. This effectively cemented local authorities historical allocations.
Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, would like to see additional funding rather than just reform. Courtney said: “Parents, pupils and teachers are seeing the devastating effects of under-funding and the largest school cuts for a generation. No one ever voted for this.
“School funding cannot be fair until it is sufficient and so taking £3billion a year from schools can only lead to greater unfairness.”