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Education spending at pre-2010 levels and changes to Pupil Premium Funding allocation will see Borough’s schools lose out, says Council’s education cabinet member

Cllr Diane Roscoe, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, has slammed the news that school spending per pupil in England is lower than it was in 2010.

And, she has criticised a change in the way the Government allocates Pupil Premium Funding, which is based on the number of children eligible for free school meals. Cllr Roscoe wrote to the Secretary of State for Education in May to highlight how Sefton’s schools would lose out on almost £800,000 but received no satisfactory response.

Cuts

According to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, in 2019/2020, school spending in England was just over £6,500 per pupil. In real terms, this is 9% lower than in 2009-10. The Institute says that over the past 10 years schools in disadvantaged areas, which include Sefton, have faced the largest levels of cuts.

The Government’s decision to base how it calculates Pupil Premium Funding on the number of children entitled to free school meals at each school in October last year rather than January this year, is likely to mean schools in the most deprived 10% of areas in England will lose out on cash. This is because schools in these areas are likely to enrol more than twice the number of pupils eligible for free school meals as those with the lowest levels of deprivation.

Severe

Cllr Roscoe said: “It is widely acknowledged that many young people’s education has been severely disrupted and particularly in areas such as Sefton where the effects of COVID-19 have been most severe.

“This lack of overall funding and change to the allocation of Pupil Premium Funding means that pupils attending our schools will have a much harder time catching up with lost learning. This is despite the Prime Minister’s claim of a levelling up agenda for poorer parts of the country in the wake of the pandemic.”

The Government has allocated over £7 billion extra for schools in 2022–23 and has announced that Academic mentors are being placed in selected schools across the country to work in small groups with over 250,000 students most in need of support this year. However, core, per pupil funding will still be between one and two percent lower than the 2010 highpoint.

Potential

Cllr Roscoe continued: “In May, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Education pointing out that over 400 primary school pupils and 179 secondary pupils will not be allocated funding due to the Government changing the calculation date to October 2020. In the letter, I highlighted that this meant that Sefton schools will lose out on almost £800,000 to help disadvantaged pupils improve their progress and reach their full potential.

“In his reply, Nick Gibb Minister of State for School Standards failed to satisfactorily address my question.”

She added: “Many households across Sefton have been hard-hit by COVID-19 and despite the valiant work of our teachers and school staff to provide online learning as well as classroom learning for those who could not stay at home through the pandemic, our young people have seen a significant interruption to their education.

“At a time when they need to be investing in young people’s education and their futures and levelling up funding allocations between affluent and disadvantaged areas such as ours, the Prime Minister and his colleagues are completely failing to do so.”

Challenge

Luke Sibieta, Research Fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the fact that schools funding will not have recovered to 2009 levels by 2022 will make it that much harder for schools to address the major challenge of helping pupils catch up on lost learning alongside everything else they are required to do.

He said: “Schools serving disadvantaged communities face the biggest challenges.

“They faced the biggest cuts up to 2019 and are now receiving the smallest rises.”