Northumberland education chief calls for Tory leadership hopefuls to start again on schools funding
An education chief at Tory-run Northumberland County Council is calling on the Conservative leadership hopefuls to rip it up and start again on schools funding.
Coun Wayne Daley, the authority’s deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, vowed to ‘hold to account’ those seeking to be Prime Minister, ‘because they have all said they will put more money into education, which is fine, but Northumberland has some very particular challenges’.
He said that at the hustings for Tory members, he will be challenging the candidates with a simple question: “How can we provide an outstanding education with a National Funding Formula that does not recognise the unique challenges in Northumberland?
“The National Funding Formula is not fit for purpose, it doesn’t work for Northumberland and we need to get it changed.”
In December 2016, the Department for Education (DfE) announced plans for a new National Funding Formula (NFF), which aims to remove discrepancies in funding through budgets being allocated by local authorities. All councils will have to follow the NFF by 2021.
However, significant concerns have been raised that while some schools will gain, others will lose out.
Coun Daley points out that indicative figures for next year show that no schools in Northumberland would lose out, although some budgets would stay the same, and he agrees that the Government is putting more funding into the system as a whole.
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However, he added: “There’s more money in the pot, but it’s going into pensions, salary increases and National Insurance contributions, so at best we are at a stand-still.”
Coun Daley also wants a radical overhaul of funding for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Referring to the £130million capital investment the council is making in new school buildings, he said: “We are doing our bit, it’s now down to government to say that places like Northumberland have challenges and we need to scrap the NFF and bring in something that works for different areas.”
“We have been very good at working with the DfE and the Regional Schools Commissioner to support our schools,” he added, noting the £24million programme announced by the Education Secretary last year – Opportunity North East.
“That’s great, but we need this to be across all schools.”