"Level-up" funding will benefit schools in better-off areas

According to a report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) on school funding allocations 2021-22, better-off pupils in England will see larger school funding increases than poorer pupils.

The report says: "the link between funding and pupil need is being weakened by a system of levelling up which directs a proportion of additional funding towards schools with historically lower levels of funding – these schools will typically (though by no means exclusively) be serving schools in more affluent areas."

The government's National Funding Formula for schools is designed to ensure pupils with the same characteristics get the same level of funding, regardless of where in the country they go to school.

The Prime Minister last month unveiled plans to "level up" budgets and increase the amount received by schools in areas where funding is lower.

But the EPI study says the reason why funding for some schools is lower is because they have fewer pupils from poor backgrounds who are eligible for extra money such as the pupil premium, which aims to boost the attainment of the most disadvantaged.

It also argues that the prime minister's plan to level-up school funding "appears to be distorting" the original aim of the National Funding Formula, directing a disproportionate amount of the extra money to schools with fewer pupils from poorer backgrounds.

It warns that while pupils from low income backgrounds continue to attract more funding overall, the link between school funding and pupil need needs to be addressed.

The report says: "The latest round of funding announcements continues to reflect the government’s commitment to ‘level-up’ funding. We have previously expressed concerns about this approach. Levelling up funding means, by definition, directing funding towards schools that have previously been funded at a lower rate. These schools will, on average, have fewer pupils that attract additional funding through the NFF – pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, pupils with low prior attainment, pupils with English as a second language – so a key question is how is the funding formula affecting different pupils."


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