Winners and losers under proposals

The new Duchess's Community High School in Alnwick.
The new Duchess's Community High School in Alnwick.

The new National Funding Formula (NFF) is supposed to be fairer, but ‘it has unintended consequences for many schools in Northumberland’.

A report to today’s meetings of Northumberland County Council’s cabinet outlines the proposals for the new NFF – to be introduced from April 2018 – which are out for consultation until March 22.

View of Belford First School
Picture by Jane Coltman

View of Belford First School Picture by Jane Coltman

It warns that currently the local authority can ‘determine significant aspects of the way the funding is used’. For example, in Northumberland, the county council ‘has been determined to preserve small, rural schools’.

The report continues: ‘In future, with the introduction of an NFF, it looks unlikely that a local strategic approach will be possible and therefore schools may become more financially vulnerable.’

It adds: ‘The proposed NFF is predicated on the principle that an average primary school will have around 220 pupils and an average secondary school will have around 960 pupils. Clearly this is not the case in Northumberland and the introduction of an NFF based upon much larger numbers on roll will remove flexibility from the system and for small schools amounts to very small sums.’

The proposed NFF for 2018/19 represents an overall increase of 1.2 per cent compared to 2016/17, but this will be less than the increase in costs, such as staff salaries and pensions, over that time.

Among the 20 schools which would lose out in 2018/19 under the proposals compared to 2016/17 are the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick (-£15,000); Belford First School (-£8,000); and Dr Thomlinson CE Middle School in Rothbury (-£7,000). By contrast, Thropton Village First School would gain £29,000.