Shire counties press for new funding deal for schools

Michael Gove Education Secretary Michael Gove agrees that the current funding system needs an overhaul

The Education Secretary Michael Gove may need to brush up on his maths.

He set some homework for Ivan Ould, the Leicestershire politician who represents the f40 group of local education authorities.

He lobbies for those English counties that claim unfairness in the current complex system of allocating education funding.

His own authority, Conservative-run Leicestershire County Council, has found itself at the bottom of the education funding league table for a number of years.

Funding challenge

Councillor Ould held talks last week with Michael Gove at the Department for Education.

It was out of their head-to-head that the Education Secretary issued his funding challenge.

So at Leicestershire's County Hall, Ivan Ould - with calculator in hand - has been working out an alternative system of school funding.

Start Quote

Pupils in exam hall

If the Department for Education can find the cash for its pupil premium scheme and other projects, it can certainly afford this”

End Quote Cllr Ivan Ould Leicestershire County Council

His own proposals are now on their way to the Education Secretary to plug an increasingly controversial funding gap between our city and county schools.

It matters: funding is allocated to each pupil based on a series of social, education and deprivation factors.

So in Leicestershire, each pupil is allocated £4,428. But that's £862 lower than for each city pupil in Leicester's schools.

In neighbouring Nottinghamshire, the funding gap is even greater. County pupils are allocated £4,746.

That's almost £1,000 less than pupils in Nottingham City.

"I'm not asking for any education authority to lose out," Councillor Ould told me.

"We've simply asked the government to narrow the range between the lowest funded and the average.

"Somebody has to be at the bottom of the funding table and I'm quite comfortable if that's Leicestershire, providing the current range between the best funded and the lowest is narrowed."

He's suggesting an increase of between 0.25% or 0.50% for each year of this parliament.

That could cost the Department for Education up to £100 million.

Finding the formula

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We have schools in Loughborough that have needs too and it's time that was recognised”

End Quote Nicky Morgan MP Conservative, Loughborough

For a county like Leicestershire, that's worth an extra £1 million. The higher increase would net £4 million.

"The money's there," said Councillor Ould.

"If the Department for Education can find the cash for its pupil premium scheme and other projects, it can certainly afford this."

He's argues the current funding formula puts county schools at a financial disadvantage. And he's getting influential parliamentary backing.

"We have deprived areas in Leicestershire," said Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP for Loughborough.

"Teachers' salaries and book costs are the same for our schools as they would be in any city. Our schools in Loughborough have needs too and it's time that was recognised," she added.

Tussle ahead?

But there's this warning about tampering with the current formula.

"There is a clear, clear need for extra money for cities like Leicester," said Labour's Councillor Vi Dempster, who runs schools and children's services for the city.

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If there's any more money to be handed out, it should go to those authorities that have the most need”

End Quote Clr Vi Dempster Leicester City Council

She told Eleanor Garnier, BBC Radio Leicester's political reporter:

"If there's any more money to be handed out, it should go to those authorities that have the most need. And that means Leicester City and not Leicestershire County."

This hints at a new tussle between city and county for more government cash support for schools.

The county lobby feels it's winning its case.

Michael Gove is said to be supportive and agrees the current funding system needs an overhaul. But the issue now is timing.

The Education Secretary told Ivan Ould a long term solution would have to wait until after the next general election... unless Ivan had a cunning plan that adds up.

That Ould alternative is now on its way to the Department for Education.

John Hess Article written by John Hess John Hess Political editor, East Midlands

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  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Money doesn't give you a good education. grove proves that effortlessly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    With recent reports showing 22% of UK kids leave school innumerate and 17% leave illiterate, perhaps Michael Gove should be asking for a refund instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Why does location matter for pupil funding but not matter for teacher pay?

    One of these systems is wrong.

    If pupils need more or less money based on where they live, then surely the same applies for teacher pay as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The funding model for schools is outdated, unfair; the original reasons for variances long forgotten. A bit like the entire public sector funding systems. A re-evaluation across the board is in order.. Dear me has he spoken to GO Top down pots are not going to cut it.. The range of unfunded reforms being prosed in education beggar belief

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Anything that would simplify the system would help. But if the government is thinking of adopting the volutary aided school model used by faith schools for academies will he also be expecting state school / non faith parents to make 'voluntary' contributions to the cost of their children's education? Or will he be picking up that tab?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    wouldn't this be taking from the poor to give to the rich?
    well, i suppose that is about right if you are rich

    ever thought about moving to the city?
    well - maybe not.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Do you trust Gove?

    If you multiply out an average of £4,750 by the total number of pupils in England and Wales I can tell you without a calculator - that's a lot of money!

    With Mr Gove's push towards privately funded, profit making, Academies it will be just another way to steal from the taxpayer.

    And at the same time, minus profit taken, give each pupil a Poorer education in real terms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    It's Labour's Vi Dempster who needs the maths lesson. Worcs like Leics is one of the lowest funded authorities in terms of school funding. The gap between Worcs and Bham school funding per child per year has TREBLED since 1998! Is that fair Vi? The current formula bears no resemblance to "need" it has been grotesquely distorted beyond recognition by the annual percentage increase over many years.



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