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This briefing focuses on school funding for state-funded primary and secondary schools in England. It sets out the Government’s recent reforms to the school funding system and their impact on schools, how school funding has changed over time, and provides wider context to the financial challenges schools are facing. This briefing does not cover early years provision or 16–19 school funding where separate funding formulas exist and does not outline the impact of school funding policy decisions made by the devolved administrations.

Continuing with steps taken by the previous Conservative Government in 2016/17 to provide “fairer funding”, the Government introduced a national funding formula (NFF) to calculate the amount of core funding allocated to state-funded schools across England. Alongside the announcement of the NFF in July 2017, the Government announced an additional investment of £1.3 billion for schools and high needs (special educational needs and disabilities) across 2018/19 and 2019/20. The NFF came into force in April 2018 but will not be fully implemented until 2020/21. Currently, a ‘soft’ NFF is being used to provide notional allocations for individual schools and local authorities retain responsibility for allocating funding.

The Government maintain that school funding has increased to a record high and that the way it is being distributed has been made fairer. Despite this, teachers and education unions have argued that the funding provided is not enough, especially with rising cost pressures. As a result, they claim that amongst other consequences, the insufficiency of overall funding has resulted in increased class sizes, the loss of school staff and reduced special educational needs provisions.

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