Weight new school funding formula in favour of schools struggling to recruit, report says

Joint IPPR and Teach First study on schools in the North of England also warns that expertise could be lost because of academisation

Areas of the country which struggle to recruit teachers should receive more cash under the new national school funding formula, a study on how to improve education in the North of England recommends.

The report, from the Institute for Public Policy Research North (IPPR) and Teach First also warns that the government’s academisation programme could damage standards in the North by leading to the loss of local authority expertise.

“At a local authority level, around half of the North’s local authorities outperform the national average,” the report states. “Redcar and Cleveland, Trafford and Warrington all have results that would be the envy of most London boroughs.

“It is important that the expertise of these local authorities is not lost as more schools become academies.”

The study calls on the government to use its forthcoming overhaul of school funding to ensure that the system is “explicitly weighted” towards schools struggling with recruitment.

Jonathan Clifton, associate director for public services at the IPPR and one of the report’s authors, said: “Just as the funding formula weights funding towards London because they think it costs more to live there, why not look at weighting a funding formula according to whether it’s difficult to attract great teachers and leaders by looking at the local labour market?”

Mind the funding gap

The report highlights the fact that northern secondaries receive £1,300 less per pupil on average than those in London, and states that attainment in some areas of the North is “a big cause for concern”.

At primary school level, the region – the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber – receives an average of about £4,600 per pupil in funding, the report says – about the same as the average for England but £900 less than London.

The study also calls on the government to build on programmes tackling recruitment in shortage areas, such as the new National Teaching Service.

And it backs other ideas, such as writing-off student loans for teachers who work in tough schools.

The report states that headline figures for teacher recruitment in the North “obscure local difficulties some individual schools are facing”.

The new national funding formula is due to come into effect in 2017-18, and so far, the government has spelled out the four key factors that will decide budgets – such as area deprivation – but they do not include teacher recruitment.

The report comes just months after Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw warned that the government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda to revive the North would “splutter and die” if secondary education was not improved in its cities.

Mr Clifton said he supported government efforts to improve education in the North such as the National Teaching Service, but they were, at this stage, “too small-scale” to make a difference.

“If the government was being really ambitious, it will have to be much bolder than this,” he said.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “School leaders have been pointing out the disparity in school funding which currently exists across the UK for a long time, and have campaigned to secure a fair funding formula for all schools.

“This report highlights that disparity and drives home the impact it has on life chances.”

Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said she was “ensuring that all schools have the resources they need through the introduction of a historic new National Funding Formula that will ensure funding follows need rather than a historic formula and continuing to invest in the Pupil Premium, worth £2.5billion this year”.

Click here to read the report: “Northern Schools: putting education at the heart of the northern powerhouse

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