Laura Sharman 02 July 2021

Funding formula has shifted money from most deprived schools, watchdog warns

Funding formula has shifted money from most deprived schools, watchdog warns image

Funding for deprived schools has shifted towards more wealthier schools, the public spending watchdog has warned today.

A new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) calls on the Government to evaluate if its new national funding formula is matching resources to need.

It found that while more deprived local authorities and schools receive more per pupil on average than those that are less deprived, the difference in funding has narrowed.

It found that between 2017-18 and 2020-21, the most deprived schools saw per-pupil funding fall by 1.2% in real terms, while the least deprived schools saw an increase of 2.9%.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: 'The Department for Education has met its objective of making the way it allocates school funding more transparent and consistent. However, it is less clear whether it has met its objective of allocating funding fairly.

'There has been a shift in the balance of funding from more deprived to less deprived local areas. Although more deprived areas and schools continue to receive more per-pupil funding than those that are less deprived, the difference in funding has narrowed. The Department must evaluate whether this funding model is matching resources to need.'

However, it did find the change means funding for schools is now allocated more transparently and consistently.

A Department for Education spokesperson said the formula is 'delivering resources where they are needed most'.

They said: 'It ensures that the areas with high proportions of students from disadvantaged backgrounds are receiving the highest levels of funding, providing £6.4bn in funding for pupils with additional needs in 2021-22.'

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