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Headteacher’s ‘austerity’ warning as Suffolk will be one of England’s most underfunded areas under National Funding Formula

PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 September 2017

Funding in Suffolk remains below the national average. Education Secretary Justine Greening, pictured, says education funding is at an all-time high. Picture: BEN BIRCHALL/PA WIRE

Funding in Suffolk remains below the national average. Education Secretary Justine Greening, pictured, says education funding is at an all-time high. Picture: BEN BIRCHALL/PA WIRE

Pupil spending will be hundreds of pounds below the national average and lower than seven years ago, it can be revealed.

A headteacher warned last night that schools face at least another year of “relative austerity”.

An analysis of Department for Education (DfE) data, released as part of last week’s national funding formula (NFF) update, shows Suffolk will remain in the bottom-50 authorities for primary and secondary school funding.

Suffolk’s school block funding will rise by 2.4% to £395m in 2018/19. But an average of £4,347 will be spent on pupils, the DfE provisional data shows. England’s average is £4,629, meaning a 1,000-pupil school in Suffolk would get around £280,000 less per year.

• It follows warnings from heads that budgets are already “painfully tight” due to inflation and other rising costs.

It could lead to unprecedented cutbacks regardless of the NFF, they warn.

For Suffolk, it is a fall from £4,470 in 2010. Essex will get a slightly better deal, with £4,384 per pupil on average. Norfolk would get £4,532.

The NFF, to be introduced in September 2018, will distribute money based on individual needs of schools. Deprivation and prior achievement are some factors.

Individually, schools will get an average rise of 2.1% in 2017/18, ranging from 0.2% to 3%.

Graham White, of the Suffolk NUT, said this is not enough: “A typical school has seen its costs rise by around 5-6%. Many have already cut courses, lost staff, made significant cutbacks on trips, asked parents for money, and got pupils to buy books.”

David Hutton, headteacher of Northgate High School in Ipswich, said: “For those schools that are significantly under-funded, the 3% cap in gains will mean that this will remain the case for some time yet to come, with many local schools probably not receiving a fair share of the national education budget until 2019 or beyond.

“This is important because we have at least another year of relative austerity before levels of funding reach those required to start reversing the very damaging cuts that have had to be made in recent times.”

The analysis, verified by Suffolk County Council (SCC), showed the county will be ranked 113th of 150 authorities for primary school per-pupil funding for 2018/19 (£3,841). The England average is £4,114. Tower Hamlets, in top spot, would get £5,893. For secondaries, Suffolk is 115th, with £4,928. The England average is £5,343. Hackney would get £7,840.

Gordon Jones, education cabinet member at SCC, said: “We will continue to work through this revised formula.”

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