School Funding Lottery                                                             27/2/17


The details of a national funding formula for schools are presently being discussed. Such a scheme is long overdue. It has been a national disgrace that pupils in different edcuation authorities have been allocated different sums of money for so long. Postcode lottery is the only way to describe it. Education should be seen as a national, not a local responsibility, for the simple reason that all of us, surely, want the best for our pupils in whichever city or county they happen to live. That will benefit them as individuals and benefit society as a whole.  


I am pleased that serious discussions are at last taking place and hope that an equitable formula can be agreed. It is eleven years ago that I first wrote about the school funding lottery in an edition of School Report and it seems that the situation in recent years has been no better than it was then. It's a pity that such a relatively simple matter can take such a long time to put right.


Whilst on the subject of school funding I'm not in favour of the government increasing expenditure on schools. This will not raise standards of education. What will raise standards is parents taking much more responsibility for their children's learning and supporting them at home from the earliest years right through to adulthood. The whole question of raising standards, as well as the question of what should be the purpose of education, are key themes in my book, Forever Learning.


If we move to a national formula for funding pupils it seems to me that this would present an ideal opportunity to introduce an even more interesting innovation - a voucher or tax credit scheme to be made available to parents who wished to organise the education of their children themselves. More about this in the last chapter of the book. 


Good luck to those who are engaged in negotiations about the new formula. If anyone is interested I've copied the relevant sections of Edition 31 of School Report below. Other editions can be read by going to the School Report page.




Edition 31

7 April 2006






The present system of school funding must be dismantled. Governors, parents and teachers should be outraged that its inequities are allowed to continue.

Take a notional school with 500 pupils. In Chelsea and Kensington such a school has hit the jackpot. It receives a staggering £1 million more than its equivalent in Leicestershire - a bonanza which buys many more teachers and much more equipment. Less extreme, but still wholly unacceptable, is the fact that a school with 500 pupils in Slough has £230,000 more to spend than a comparable school in Barnsley, and that a school in Durham has £123,000 more than a school in Devon.

We all know that money is not the magic ingredient which transforms the education of our young people. But it must be right that wherever they happen to live they make their educational journey with an equitable allocation of resources to support them.




Please read the headline PARITY OF FUNDING and register your view on the proposed solution by contacting Alan Kerr. It would be helpful if you could please indicate your involvement with education: headteacher, teacher, parent, governor, councillor, etc, or simply, taxpayer. Thank you in anticipation of your response. NB I'm not asking for comments now (27/2/17) but I received quite a number when this edition was put out.




This headline has been carried over from the previous edition.

It is regrettable that the government has missed the opportunity presented by the Education Bill to address the issue of school funding. The funding of Trust Schools directly from central government, as happened with Grant Maintained Schools, would remove the unfair and cumbersome system which still operates. It is a national disgrace that spending per pupil remains the biggest postcode lottery in our public services and it is a sad reflection on all our politicians that this receives so little attention. The phrase “parity of funding”, used on the DFES website to describe funding within a local authority, should be the underlying principle for schools throughout the country.

To secure this parity all schools should be funded directly from central government. A simple formula, largely based on pupil numbers, special needs and academic attainment, would ensure that every school in the country had an equitable share of the global sum available for education. To continue to pretend that education is a local service and should incorporate an element of locally raised revenue defies common sense. There is nothing local about education and there never has been. We want and expect all our pupils to be educated to the highest standard whichever city or county they happen to live in.

National funding from national taxation would reinforce the sense that education is a resource for the whole country – something in which we should all take pride and from which every pupil should benefit. It would enable us to monitor precisely how much is being spent and it would save a huge amount of money by eliminating a layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. As a welcome by-product it would also reduce council tax bills to acceptable levels.

The time for reform is long overdue. Politicians from all parties should use the setting up of Trust Schools to deliver a sensible system of funding.

Note: Age Weighted Funding per pupil may not present the whole picture in a Local Authority’s Education budget but it may tell us something. CIPFA’s Education Statistics 2005-06 Estimates show the age weighted allocations for each Local Authority. For example, Worcestershire allocates £1837 for each Year 6 pupil, while Dorset allocates £1394. Southend-on-Sea is able to allocate £3385 for each Year 11 pupil, while Blackpool allocates £2306.