Impact on London of National Funding Formula for schools

MQT on 2016-06-22
Session date: 
June 22, 2016
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


How much do you think London schools could lose if the Government's current proposals to move to a national funding formula go ahead?


Answer for Impact on London of National Funding Formula for schools

Answer for Impact on London of National Funding Formula for schools

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  I am concerned about the Government’s proposals for a national funding formula, which they say aims to ensure school funding is simpler, more transparent and pupil characteristic-led.  As London boroughs currently receive the largest proportion of the dedicated schools grant, the capital is at risk of losing funding under any new model.  What London schools could lose is the great progress they have made with targeted extra investment, particularly during the London Challenge school improvement programme, which ran from 2002 to 2011 and brought together schools and boroughs to lead and achieve improvements in the capital.


The GLA and London Councils submitted a robust response to the Government’s national funding formula consultation in the spring.  There has already been some recognition of London’s arguments.  For example, the high mobility of families across borough boundaries as a specific London issue has been acknowledged by the [Education and Childcare] Minister Sam Gyimah in the Commons backbench debate on 4 May 2016.  We anticipate a second part to this consultation to be published with information on the weights being proposed in the formula.  My officers will analyse the implications for primary and secondary schools across the capital and will respond accordingly.  If London’s high needs are not adequately recognised in the formula, I will be seeking a meeting with the Secretary of State together with London Councils.


It is in no one’s interests that London’s schools go back to pre-London Challenge days and I do not want to see the education and future employment success of young Londoners jeopardised in any way.  I will use the power of City Hall, working with all political parties at London Councils, to fight strongly for a properly and fairly funded school system in London.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):   Mr Mayor, thank you for that very full, thorough and thoughtful answer.  It covers so many of the concerns that I and I know a number of Assembly Members sitting around this horseshoe share, as well as the wider education family, not to mention families, parents and indeed young people themselves.


On the point that you raised about 2002 to 2012, that is now part of - I hope - the history of education in London and we have moved forward to such an extent that we are, as we should be, the leading capital of this country in terms of performance, in terms of excellence and in terms of achievement of our children, especially those children in our most deprived boroughs.


My follow-up question to you is following on from what you said about your officers, Mr Mayor.  I do know that you have, for me, one of the best education teams in this building; GLA officers who have done a really great job in encouraging the education sector.  Can you charge them with the job of monitoring and looking to gather London-wide intelligence so that our understanding of any impact can be brought to you as soon as possible  and so that you can continue to make the case on behalf of London’s children?  They cannot be put in a position where they are left to go back to where they were.  That is totally unacceptable.  Would you agree with me?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That is a very good idea, Assembly Member Arnold.  Just to reassure you, we will do that.  There is a cross-party approach to making the case for education funding in London and it is being co-ordinated by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, co-chaired by Bob Neill MP, whom many will know as a friend, and Steve Reed MP also, whom many of us know as well, supported by London Councils and, as you said, excellent GLA officers.


There is a reason why we saw the progress that we did when we had the additional funding.  There is a challenging intake in our schools in London linked to deprivation, English as an additional language and special educational needs and disabilities.  We have seen the progress made as a consequence of targeted help.  As a cross-party issue on which we all agree, you are right that we should unite forces and use the intelligence to make sure we make the case.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Just for information, Mr Mayor, in case you are not aware, this Assembly does have a cross-party Education Panel.  I chaired that Panel in the last administration and we brought recommendations from our work on that cross-party panel to the former Mayor.


Through you, Chairman, it would be good if this Panel could bring together a summary of the work that it has done on this and other education issues to you.  Would you be willing to accept that and consider those recommendations again and, hopefully, re‑endorse them, if that is such a thing?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I would do, Chairman.  Just to echo that, the previous Mayor deserves credit for, with Jules Pipe [Chair, London Councils], writing to the Secretary of State along the lines that Assembly Member Arnold refers to.  Of course I will relook at that.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Thank you very much.