Only three local schools set to gain extra funding under proposed ‘national funding formula’ unveiled by Secretary of State yesterday

Changes to education funding have been branded as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘a shambles’ by headteachers in North Devon.

The second consultation stage of the Government’s proposed national funding formula was unveiled by Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening in the House of Commons yesterday (Wednesday).

The new formula is designed to distribute funds fairly across the nation, with a ‘base-rate’ for every single pupil. There will also be extra funding for small schools and rural areas.

However, the Government’s document showing the impact on schools across the nation delivers bad news for schools in North Devon.

Only three local schools would be set to gain extra funding from the changes, with Ilfracombe Academy receiving an additional £90,000 (2.4 per cent).

Secondary schools in Bideford, Braunton, Chulmleigh, Great Torrington, Holsworthy and South Molton would all lose funding under the new formula, with some losing as much as £90,000 each year.

Andrew Finney, headteacher at South Molton Community College, said: “We expect our school to have a reduction following this implementation of £82,000 per annum. In an already underfunded area this is appears somewhat ridiculous.

“I am sure schools will be asked to make efficiency savings, however, these have already been made. It will be interesting to understand the financial formula that has been used.”

Michael Johnson, headteacher at Chulmleigh College, said he had received calls from headteachers who simply didn’t know what to do.

He said: “Early indications are that all or most Devon secondary schools will receive less through the new funding formula.

“I have had other secondary school headteachers telling me today ‘I don’t know what I am going to do now’.

“Nationally, this formula offers the same money for more children and we have now got increased costs that we have had imposed upon us.

“With the limited information available to us at this time, we believe that most secondary schools in North Devon will not be better off and will continue to face budgetary shortfalls.

“So far, this exercise looks to me like the same budget has been through a hot-wash to present it differently. It looks like a shambles to me.”

North Devon Conservative MP Peter Heaton-Jones stressed that the figures were the second part of a consultation process and that the incoming sparsity formula was ‘one element that will make up funding’ for schools in North Devon.

He told the Gazette: “More than 10,000 schools will gain funding and for 3,000 of them it will mean more than five per cent of extra funding.

“We do not know for sure if schools in North Devon will be among those who will not gain, but it will be surprising if that is the case.

“Two weeks ago I brought the Schools Minister to North Devon to meet headteachers who are understandably concerned about future funding.

“We need to see the final details, but I believe Wednesday’s announcements do start to address these concerns and will ensure fairer funding in future for North Devon schools.

“I will continue to fight to ensure we get our fair share”.