London school students ‘will suffer’ as result of government funding changes, says Sadiq Khan

The capital faces “an education crisis” in which “pupils will suffer” as a result of the government’s new funding formula for the nation’s schools, which will “hit London’s children hardest,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan has claimed.

At his monthly mayor’s question time on Wednesday Khan described as “completely unacceptable” proposals which he warned would “reduce funding for 70% of London’s schools” resulting in fewer teachers, impacts on extra-curricular and special educational needs provision and shorter school days.

Inner London schools would be among the biggest losers from the change according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) due to what it describes as “funding being diverted from areas with high levels of social deprivation to those with more typical levels”.

The IFS says these schools would face “average cuts of around 2.5%” in funding per pupil between 2017-18 and 2019-20″ despite the formula, scheduled to apply from next financial year, including a “specific amount for pupils who have been eligible for free school meals in the past six years”.

The analysis also identifies differences between the potential effects on schools in Outer London schools compared with Inner London schools and between secondary and primary schools.

The IFS calculates that Outer London primary school pupils will each lose up to 1.1% of current funding by 2019-20 while secondary school counterparts will actually gain 1.4% while in Inner London primary pupils will lose 2.5% and secondary school pupils 2.4%

The Inner London losses would be 9.2% and 8.3% respectively without the financial protection proposed to ease the transition to the new formula in full sometime after 2019-20. The IFS says that although the transitional protection is “considerable” and “sensible” the government has “provided no indication” of how schools assisted by it in the short term will cope with further funding reductions in ensuing years.

Two fifths of local government wards in Greater London had poverty rates of 25% or higher, with Tower Hamlets reaching 42% overall and Church Street ward in North Westminster hitting 50%, according to government data produced in 2013.

Head teacher and school governor organisations in England have called for a rethink of the plans, saying that even those schools that gain from the new formula will continue to be underfunded relative to their growing financial needs.

Khan thanked the London Assembly education panel for its work examining what his role should be in helping London cope with the loss of funding and meet its need for tens of thousands of additional school places in the coming years.

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