Baffled by a formula for change
Wednesday 21 December 1994
The Department for Education will announce next month the funding method for GM schools in 17 local education authorities (LEAs) - those where more than 30 per cent of secondary school pupils attend GM schools. The aim is to move away from relating the funding of GM schools to the spending decisions of its LEA, and towards basing it on the education element of a LEA's standard spending assessment (SSA, the assessment of what it needs to spend).
Under the new Common Funding Formula (CFF), an LEA's education SSA is distributed to a GM school using a national formula based on a variety of factors - namely, the latest pupil numbers, the number of free school meals, special educational needs and a particular school's fixed costs.
Transitional arrangements will ensure that this will not immediately lead to a drop in budgets for any GM school. The LEA can hold back a portion of the educational SSA for responsibilities relating to nursery provision, school transport that benefits GMpupils and for special needs support. An LEA is permitted to fund a locally managed school (LMS) at a lower level than a GM school.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) has expressed concern about these moves. It believes that this could be the first stage of "hypothecating" (earmarking) SSA, removing local authorities' powers to decide how to spend theirincome. Cipfa argues that this is contrary to ministers' expressed intentions, and will force authorities to cut back on other areas of spending.
"The Institute believes, along with many other organisations, that there is a need for a formula basis when distributing funds to GM schools," said Glenn Smith, financial policy development manager at Cipfa. "The present formula achieves that, but requi r es a certain amount of work, and produces oddities between LEAs."
Calderdale, one of the pilot authorities, has had to cut back on many services in order to bring educational spending up to its SSA. It is forced to fund GM secondary schools at SSA level, and if it fails to fund LMS schools similarly then they can be expected to opt out. If Calderdale fails to increase primary school spending in line with the secondary school allocation, then the authority's future years' educational SSA will be lower.
So this year Calderdale had to increase educational spending by 2.6 per cent at a time when its capping level increased by just 1.25 per cent. As a result, there have been significant cutbacks in leisure and social services, and next year there will needto be further cuts amounting to perhaps pounds 6m.
It could be argued that Calderdale has brought about its own problems by failing to spend to its educational SSA. But the Pennines authority claims it has no choice but to underspend on virtually all services compared with SSA, because it is allocated too little on its highways SSA to keep its roads open in winter.
Basing funding on SSAs will produce other bizarre results, says Cipfa. Schools will increasingly be "rewarded" for being in a deprived borough. A school in a well-heeled suburb of Manchester will be much better funded than its neighbouring school across the authority border in Stockport - although pupils may come from very similar social and economic backgrounds.
Robin Squire, the Schools Minister, dismisses these criticisms. Speaking at Cipfa's conference on the Common Funding Formula in October, he said that 95 per cent of headteachers involved in piloting the CFF said they would not return to the old system.
"The CFF has made clear for the first time what is spent on LEA continuing responsibilities, has brought into even sharper focus the split between spending on primary and secondary schools, and has given schools a clearer view than ever before of the basis of their funding."
Mr Squire did concede, though, that the new formula is very complex. "It is rumoured that only one civil servant in the DFE understands it," said David Jamieson MP, who sits on the Education Select Committee. He argued that witnesses to the committee, including GM heads and LEA directors of education and finance, found it virtually incomprehensible.
Mr Rob Higgins, headteacher of Charles Darwin secondary school in Bromley, one of the pilot CFF authorities, felt that despite its complexity, it was an improvement over the old system.
"It provided the basis for our development, and was at a level we thought was reasonable," he said. "The governing body shared the opinion that the Common Funding Formula attempted to give the budget more clarity, and a clearer basis for distribution. T h e DFE did their best to explain through meetings and roadshows how the funding formula worked, but it is a very complex mechanism. There is still some way to go to achieve total clarity."
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Three of Pope Francis' relatives die in Argentina car crash, including two young great-nephews
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 4 Ferguson protests: 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein ‘arrested’ by police during St Louis demonstrations
- 5 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + bonus+benefits+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...
£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, ...
£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...
£30000 - £44000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Web deve...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony