Funding for schools

MQT on 2017-08-10
Session date: 
August 10, 2017
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Are you satisfied with the level of Government funding for schools in London?

Supplementary Questions: 


Answer for Funding for schools

Answer for Funding for schools

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am disappointed that Ministers continue to ignore our advice and the high concerns of so many schools, boroughs and parents in London.  On the face of it £1.3 billion extra added to the core education budget over two years may sound like good news, but it is not new money and it will come from existing education budgets.  We are still waiting for the full details, of course.  While Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, talked of this money providing a 0.5% a year per pupil cash increase for every school, it is for just two years and the National Audit Office have said that schools can expect an 8% increase in costs by 2019/20.  That is 0.5% versus 8%.  As well as this, £350 million of this announced money is going to be diverted from the sugar tax next year.  This leaves just £100 million to fund the original child health objectives. 


I have said many times that the Government’s proposed changes to the national funding formula will result in an education crisis in London.  Schools in every one of the capital’s 33 local authorities will lose funding and London pupils will lose out.  The implications are severe when combined with other budget pressures.  We could lose teachers, standards risk dropping dramatically, special education units will be impacted, school days could be shorter, extracurricular activities could become a thing of the past and pupils will suffer.  It is not a surprise that London Councils’ recent survey with 400 London schoolteachers found 71% of headteachers think that future funding reductions will negatively impact on children’s outcomes and 47% of secondary school headteachers in London have already reduced the breadth of their curriculum to deal with funding cuts.  Let me end with this.  I will continue to work together with London Councils and others to fight for a fairly funded school system that will work for young Londoners for generations to come. 


Andrew Dismore AM:  Thank you for that reply.  As you say, it is a very disappointing approach from the Government.  Their latest scheme will cut the funding to 70% of London’s schools and out of the top ten areas in the country that lose out under the new national funding formula eight are London boroughs, including Camden in my constituency, which stands to lose about £8 million.  As the National Audit Office report identified, schools can expect an 8% increase in their running costs by 2019/20.  Would you agree that the Conservative Government is in utter disarray after a sorry list of U‑turns, attempting to plug the gaps in school funding with no new money instead of providing adequate funding levels?  What action can you take to try to prevent London schoolchildren losing out on a good standard of education?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I will be announcing later on this year a new Schools for Success scheme we are setting up to help schools in London but I have to be frank in relation to this.  When you speak to headteachers across London, 65% of them, 65% of schools in London, are planning to reduce the number of teachers in their schools in coming years.  That is the backdrop against which we are working.  I know you recognise this, Assembly Member Dismore, but we have no statutory role in relation to schooling in London.  The Government has to recognise that we as a city need a pipeline of talented people having their potential fulfilled.  If schools are underfunded we will revert to the days before the early 2000s, when the schools in London, rather than being the best in the country like they are now, were, I am afraid, the most underperforming in the country. 


Andrew Dismore AM:  One of the Conservatives’ biggest cuts, 88%, is to their own flagship free school programme.  Do you agree that if free schools are cut back this will inevitably impact on pupil numbers in other schools, with consequent further funding pressures on those schools?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The only way it is viable to open a new school is via it being a free school.  That is because of Government changes over the last seven years.  Even though many have concerns about free schools the reality is you have to be pragmatic and go along with it because it is the only way to get new schools open, which is important bearing in mind there is a shortage of school places in London.  Many schools across London are trying to expand classrooms on the footprint they have, which is leading to reverting back to the position we had pre‑1997 of most classes being above 30 pupils, which is not conducive to good learning.  I really do worry about the future generations of Londoners being schooled in London, bearing in mind the funding crisis we have.  The cuts the Government is making to funding in London are going to cause huge problems.  Of course I welcome the other U‑turn they did, which is no more grammar schools, but that was always going to be a distraction from the real issue of improving all the schools. 


Andrew Dismore AM:  The Department for Education (DfE) has explicitly admitted that the main groups of schools likely to see reductions were, “Those in inner London and some other urban areas that have particularly benefited from historic funding decisions”.  Research by the National Union of Teachers and the Child Poverty Action Group shows that while over 40% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, those schools are the ones that lose out most.  What do you think that says about the Government’s priorities and the Conservative Party’s priorities for education?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  One of the things I said in my answer to your first question was the statement of a fact, which is that schools in every single one of the capital’s 33 local authorities will lose funding and London pupils will lose out.  It is also a fact that in the London schools that benefited most from the changes that we brought in when you were a Member of Parliament (MP) in the early 2000s, post‑1997, the progress will be lost.  It does not simply show the Government letting down the most vulnerable children; it shows a lack of investment in children, which is crucial.  At a time when ‑ as Assembly Member Sahota said in asking a previous question ‑ our European cousins are leaving London because of Brexit, at a time when the Government is placing hurdles in front of talented people to come to our city, you also have a situation where youngsters in our city are not being trained up, having their potential fulfilled, to fill the skills gaps there inevitably will be.  That is why it is crucial for the Government to do a reversal of this policy of not investing in young people in London.