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Head teachers warn school funding 'a postcode lottery'

Schools face a "postcode lottery" in funding, with some likely to receive almost £2 million less than others over the next year, head teachers have warned.

This funding gap is enough to pay for around 40 teachers, according to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

ASCL warned schools face a 'postcode lottery' in funding. Credit: PA Wire

The union blamed the gulf on a "historic grant system that does not work" and said it is calling for a new, national fair funding formula to ensure schools are handed the money they need.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said, "We have put an extra £390 million into the schools budget for 2015-16 to increase the per-pupil budgets of the 69 least fairly funded areas."

Teaching unions attack Tory free school plans

Chris Keates Credit: PA Wire

Teaching unions have attacked Tory plans for more free schools, saying there is no evidence they raise educational standards.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers' union, said: "It is scandalous that in the context where the Conservative Party is proposing even deeper cuts to funding post the General Election, it still plans to pour millions of pounds into free schools.

"There is no evidence that structural change raises educational standards."

Meanwhile the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Mary Bousted, said Mr Cameron's announcement was "worrying for parents and taxpayers" and that Policy Exchange's evidence for the benefits of free schools were "paper thin".

"The report's conclusion that 'free schools are raising standards for other pupils across the local community' is demolished by its own evidence that standards fall in the majority of established schools when free schools open in their local area," said Dr Bousted.

"But there are more fundamental problems with the Conservatives' free schools policy. Parents will be concerned that the free school programme will not provide sufficient school places for the 18% increase in the number of primary pupils in the next eight years."

Lib Dems: Free schools 'jeopardise school places'

Lib Dem schools minister David Laws Credit: PA Wire

Tory plans to open hundreds of new free schools by 2020 would blow a £4bn hole in the school buildings budgets and put at risk efforts to ensure there were enough school places for children, the Liberal Democrats claim.

David Laws, Lib Dems schools minister, said: "This would condemn thousands more children to inadequate and crumbling classrooms and jeopardise our efforts to ensure there are enough school places.

"The Tories have already set out plans to decimate budgets for schools, nurseries and colleges - now they are admitting capital budgets would be under attack under a majority Conservative government as well.

"You simply can't build a world-class system of education unless it is properly funded. We need to protect education budgets in real terms and make sure all new schools are built in the areas where they are needed."

Meanwhile UKIP said real choice would be allowing grammar schools to be opened.

UKIP deputy leader and education spokesman Paul Nuttall said: "This proposed expansion is being herald as providing parents with 'a real choice.'

"But a real choice would be allowing grammar schools to be opened. They provide a level playing field for all children, regardless of background, and give them the best chances in life."


Free Schools will create an extra 270,000 school places

Credit: PA

Tory plans to open 500 new Free Schools in the next parliament would create an extra 270,000 school places, David Cameron said.

The Prime Minister said 49 new Free Schools had already been given the green light.

These included a boxing academy, religious ethos schools and those who were open after school hours.

He added: "Schools which will benefit from organisations as diverse as Sunderland Football Club and Microsoft."

PM reveals daughter will go to a state secondary school

David Cameron has pledged to open 500 Free Schools if elected.

David Cameron has revealed his daughter Nancy will attend a "good secondary school" in London rather than be privately educated.

The Prime Minister said him and his wife Samantha were "happy" as he unveiled Tory plans to create 500 new Free Schools if they are elected.

He said he knew Nancy would get a good state education, but in the past the education system had "failed too many people."

Cameron said Free Schools were twice as likely to be judged as "outstanding" and also raised the standards of nearby schools.

"It is remarkable when you consider they have only been going for two years," he added.

  1. Carl Dinnen

Why Labour say Free Schools are 'wrong thing to do'

Labour say more primary school places are needed. Credit: PA

If the Tories don't get elected the 49 Free Schools announced today would still be allowed to go ahead.

But the 500 Free Schools pledged by David Cameron, opposed by Labour, would be stopped.

That doesn't mean that parents wouldn't be able to set up their own schools.

They would be governed slightly differently and be called parent-led academies.

Labour want to establish local directors of school standards and they would decide whether or not new schools were needed.

According to Labour, there is a shortage, particularly of primary school places, which the Free Schools programme, which sets up secondary schools, is not really addressing.

But they are not entirely opposed to many of the ideas underlying Free Schools.

What this about really, is a time of very scarce resources for education. Labour believe that Free Schools are sucking resources out of opportunities for primary schools to be set up in areas where they are needed, and that is why they are the wrong thing to do.

Third of Free schools found to be 'under-performing'

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt. Credit: PA

A third of Free Schools have been found to be under-performing, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said.

His comments come as David Cameron announced Tory plans to open hundreds of Free Schools across England by 2020 following a report they raise standards among pupils.

The Tory plan is failing young people and their parents, with a third of all Free Schools found to be under-performing.

Instead of focusing on the desperate need for more primary school places across the country and on spreading innovation right across the school system, David Cameron's Government has spent at least £241 million on Free Schools in areas that already have enough school places.

The result is many more children forced into crowded classrooms - a 200% increase in the number of infants taught in classes of more than 30.

Parents waiting for the results of their children's primary school applications will be astonished to learn that David Cameron wants to continue funnelling money into areas with surplus school places, via the Free Schools programme, rather than addressing the crisis in primary school places and growing class sizes.

– Tristram Hunt
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