Wiltshire Council has joined with a number of local authorities to support a national campaign calling for fairer funding for primary and secondary school pupils. The campaigning group f40 represents the education authorities in England which receive the lowest cash allocations from government for pupils. Under the current system, the ten best funded areas of England will receive an average grant of £6,297 per pupil this year, compared to an average of just £4,208 per pupil in the ten most poorly funded areas. Wiltshire is the seventh poorest funded area in England – receiving £4,302.41 per pupil f40 is campaigning to change the way the government allocates funding to local authorities and schools and is working closely with the Department for Education to develop models towards a new funding formula. The decision to join the campaign was made through the Schools Forum, a group representing schools from across Wiltshire and supported by Wiltshire Council.
Richard Gamble, portfolio holder for education, skills and youth, said: “We have joined with other poorly funded local authorities to push for a fairer funding deal for pupils and schools.
“It is widely acknowledged that the existing school funding model doesn’t work and that funding for individual schools with similar pupil characteristics is arbitrary and unfair.
“At a time of spending restraint, it is more important than ever that funding is allocated based on need. f40 has campaigned tirelessly to raise the profile of this issue and has made sensible suggestions about how a new funding formula could be introduced.
“I believe the proposals put forward by f40 can help deliver a solution. We want the children in the county’s schools to continue to have a broad range of subjects to study, good resources to use, well maintained buildings, reasonably sized classes and excellent pastoral support. Fairer funding is integral to all of this, and we will urge the government to deliver it.”
Neil Baker, chair of the Schools Forum, and headteacher at Christ Church Primary School in Bradford on Avon said: “We will be supporting the need to recognise the unfairness in funding and to draw people’s attention to how poorly funded Wiltshire’s children are.”
Recently 111 MPs, including several from Wiltshire, signed an open letter to David Cameron calling on the government to deliver school funding reform. The MPs, working on a cross-party basis, asked the Prime Minister to implement the funding formula proposed by the f40 campaign group, which would ensure fair funding based on pupil need. In his recent Spending Review statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, confirmed that the government will act to change the system and it is anticipated that a consultation on a new fairer funding arrangement will be announced early in the New Year.