A plan to introduce a new national funding formula for schools will not now take place until 2021.

The government says the delay is to help support a ‘smooth transition’ to the new formula.

The formula was officially launched last September with the aim of dealing with historic disparities between funding levels in local areas. The formula will bypass local authorities and distribute funds to schools around the country more fairly, using a single set of guiding principles.

The transition period was to be two years, during which time local authorities are to continue allocating their funds based on the local formula.

Once this was in place, the aim was to introduce a full national formula from September 2020.

Local authorities will have to set their own funding

Now, the government says that local authorities will have to set their own funding for that year and the move follows news that 73 of 152 local authorities have moved their funding plans closer to what is being proposed nationally.

Another 41 councils say they have brought their funding settlements to mirror the NFF.

This has led many councils to allocate their minimum cash terms funding, or minimum per pupil funding rates, that are in line with an announcement made by the government last year.

A government spokesman said: “In light of the progress in the NFF’s first year and to continue supporting a smooth transition, councils will determine their local formula in 2020-21.”

The Department for Education, says there’s a soft formula being introduced for 2018-19 and also for 2019-20. This formula will give councils greater flexibility over how they can set their school budgets.

The national formula requires legislation

The reason for the delay to introducing the national formula is that it requires legislation and the government believes it will struggle to get the legal framework through Parliament in time.

Following the announcement, Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for School Standards wrote to Parliament to explain more about future school funding.

He says school funding is now at a record high and schools have already benefited from the national funding formula being introduced after it came into force last April.

Mr Gibb says the formula is supported with government investment of an extra £13 billion into the core schools budget. He said this is in addition to what was announced at the last spending review.

He went on to describe the previous school funding system as being unfair and said the new formula will help create a world-class education system that enables every child to achieve their potential, regardless of their background.

However, Mr Gibb’s statement to Parliament has been described as misleading by the joint secretary of the National Education Union, Kevin Courtney.

‘Education funding is in crisis’

He said: “Mr Gibb’s statement ignores recent reports from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Education Policy Institute that confirm what we’ve been saying for some time that education funding is in crisis.

“The IFS confirms that budgets have declined by 8% since 2010 in England and by 5% in Wales.”

He said that schools are experiencing severe financial hardship with education provision for young people and children being reduced.

Mr Courtney added: “It’s disappointing there’s no statement regarding extra funding for teachers’ pay and the government needs to address below inflation pay increases for teachers and confirm immediately a fully funded 5% pay increase to address the growing teacher retention and recruitment crisis.”

More information

The Department for Education NFF statement is available from their website.