A number of school head teachers have been working closely with me in recent weeks on the issue of school funding and I thought it helpful to provide an update.
The first point to make is that the government consultation on school funding only closed this week and so no final decisions have been made. Therefore where people may have told you a specific figure for a school it is difficult to understand how they can be certain of that, when the government itself has not made that decision.
Secondly, the majority of schools in Cambridgeshire benefit from the new proposed funding, although not all schools in Cambridgeshire do so. As part of my lobbying of the schools minister Nick Gibb MP he has confirmed that the proposed funding formula would see an increase of £6.3 million to schools block funding in Cambridgeshire, with an increase of £2.1 million for North East Cambridgeshire.
In reaching its decision the key question for Government will be how much funding is allocated to core budgets and how much is allocated to deprivation. The formula comprises of core funding which is then topped up for funding based on deprivation, which reflects additional challenges faced by schools with high levels of need. The existing national schools funding formula inherited from the previous Labour Government in my view over-scores the top up funding for deprivation. This is particularly the case when the top up funding for deprivation in the schools formula is combined with the £2.6 billion of per pupil premium funding each year which is allocated outside of the funding formula.
In lobbying alongside my Cambridgeshire MP colleagues, I have questioned whether the current proposal strikes the right balance, between core funding and deprivation funding as that lies behind the variance we inherited in 2010, and is impacted by the per pupil funding introduced by the Coalition Government. As such I have raised with ministers whether the current proposal on which the consultation has just closed, correctly balances the core funding and deprivation funding.
The formula also needs to be viewed as a wider package. I was pleased to confirm earlier this year that I had helped to secure additional money outside of the funding formula as a result of Fenland and East Cambridgeshire being designated as one of twelve national Opportunity Areas, we have secured significant new funding for new school buildings in recent years, the budget contained a number of announcements around technical training which are particularly advantageous to an area like ours, and working collaboratively with school heads I have helped unlock some one-off funds such as an extra half million pounds after I raised with the County Council the opportunity to renegotiate a particularly ineffective PFI contract.
I will update further as this develops.