Funding rule changes could hit school finances

Schools could lose funding because disadvantaged pupils are being “reclassified” as middle class even though their family circumstances are unchanged.

The situation is the result of new rules – the goalposts being moved – according to a concerned head teacher.

Damien Jordan spoke out at Brighton and Hove City Council’s Schools Forum yesterday (Monday 7 October).

The Fairlight Primary and Nursery School head said: “One road was something and suddenly it isn’t and nobody has moved house. Nobody has changed. They’re the same families.

“Rules keep changing and certain parts of the city have become more middle class – and they don’t know they’ve become more middle class but they have on a piece of paper for funding.”

Mr Jordan added that smaller schools, for example, those with one class in a year, could find that small changes in the rules could have a big knock-on effect on their funding.

Almost 10 per cent of the main schools funding grant from the government goes towards supporting disadvantaged pupils, previously defined as those who qualify for free school meals.

And three-quarters of the money currently goes to schools with higher numbers of children receiving free school meals.

But, from next year, free school meals will be one of three measures. The funding formula will also take into account children who have had free school meals at any point in the past six years.

And it will also take into account an “index” known as the income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI).

Blatchington Mill head Ashley Harrold, who is also the deputy chair of the Schools Forum, said there that were issues with all three measures.

But he said that new method of allocating funds would more in line with national guidance.

The forum agreed to the changes to the way that “deprivation” would be calculated for next year.

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