"What happened to decentralisation? What happened to the coalition mantra of getting rid of quangos? This is centralised control of school funding... How the hell can you fund a school in rural Devon on the same basis as inner city Birmingham?"Conservative Cllr Les Lawrence on the proposals, revealed today as the Financial Times reports (registration required) that Michael Gove is set to impose a system that will fund all schools directly from Whitehall, bypassing local authorities completely.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that a single national formula will cut funding to 60% of secondary schools and 40% of primary schools, while potentially leaving them with the full costs and responsibilities of sickness and maternity leave. That analysis assumed no cuts in spending, but the next four years will see cuts in per-pupil spending of 2.7%, so the losses will be worse.
Cllr Lawrence was involved in a body that developed a single funding formula for further education and that took four years - Gove intends to have a new quango up and handing out funding by 2013, with consultation to be carried out in just six months next year.
The vast majority of schools have under 500 pupils and governing bodies and management teams within small schools are simply not equipped to take on the level of work now expected of them in terms of human resources issues and maintenance. This is a recipe for massive problems and runs counter to the agenda of empowering local authorities - it also strips away still further any semblance of democratic accountability for education at a local level.