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EVERY school in Tower Hamlets at risk from funding proposals

PUBLISHED: 16:18 17 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:18 17 March 2017

Newham headteachers have written to the government urging ministers to take into account the needs of schools in poorer parts of the country as the Department for Education consults on changes to how schools are funded. Photo: David Jones.

Newham headteachers have written to the government urging ministers to take into account the needs of schools in poorer parts of the country as the Department for Education consults on changes to how schools are funded. Photo: David Jones.

PA Wire/PA Images

Every school in Tower Hamlets would lose money if national plans meant to make funding fairer are approved, a report out today has shown.

According to the Education Policy Institute (EPI) study, 83 primary and secondary schools would face budget cuts with spending per pupil set to drop from £6,906 to £6,718 per year if government proposals to change how school funding is calculated go ahead.

Last year Tower Hamlets’ per pupil funding was the highest in the country with Wokingham the lowest at £3,991 per pupil, a difference of £2,914.

Commenting, Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali said: “The proposed change is dangerous and damaging for the future of young people.

“Improving school standards across the country is vital, but doing so by punishing schools in Tower Hamlets for being successful is completely the wrong approach, especially as London has a higher rate of child poverty than the rest of the country.

“In 1997 schools in Bethnal Green and Bow were among the worst. By the time Labour left office, they were among the best, and that continued under the last government. By taking money away from pupils the government will force class sizes to grow, increase stress on teachers and jeopardise the hard won achievements of our schools.

“The government is putting years of progress in Tower Hamlets at risk,” she said.

The EPI report also concluded there are unlikely to be any schools in England which will avoid a cut in per pupil funding by 2019-20, even in areas set to benefit from the new formula, because of “wider financial pressures”.

Even though a greater share of funding is proposed for disadvantaged pupils, the research finds the impact of redistributing the schools budget results in taking money away from the most deprived pupils and giving it to the children of so called JAMs, families who are ‘just about managing’.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “Tower Hamlets is one of the most deprived places in the country, yet our schools produce some truly amazing results. “There is absolutely no doubt that social mobility and the life chances of young people in our borough would be harmed if the government goes ahead with these plans which do nothing but punish pupils from the poorest communities.”

In response, minister for school standards Nick Gibb said school funding is at its highest level on record and is set to rise to £42bn in 2019-20 with increasing pupil numbers.

“Our proposed funding formula will help end historical unfairness so schools are funded according to their pupils’ needs, rather than by their postcode, with more than half set to receive a cash boost,” he said.

“We recognise schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will help them use their funding in cost effective ways without affecting educational outcomes.”

The Government consultation on the introduction of a new national funding formula for schools closes on March 22.

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