SCHOOLS in the North East are missing millions of pounds in funding due to changes in the way government money is allocated, new figures suggest.
The calculation of the school bonus has been changed so that it will now be based on the number of students in each school eligible for free school meals (FSM) in October, rather than January, as was the case before.
New figures published by the Ministry of Education confirm that there has been an increase of 5,700 students receiving the WSF in the North-East between the school census of October 2020 and that of January 2021.
This means schools in the area are facing a loss of up to £ 7.66million in bonus funding for pupils as a result of the change in government.
North East Commission on Child Poverty Director Amanda Bailey said: “Schools in our region have entered this pandemic already facing some of the highest disadvantage rates in the country and new numbers of Free school meals confirm how existing levels of hardship in the North East have been exacerbated by the Covid-19.
“If the government is serious about leveling areas like our region, it needs to place investment in children and young people at the heart of its stimulus packages – but it is now clear that the decision to change the way in which premiums are funded to students is allocated totally undermines this. commitment.”
The Northeastern Child Poverty Commission, Northeastern Schools and Northeastern Children jointly wrote to the Secretary of State for Education in March to highlight the potential impact of a change ” administrative ”on how the funding for student bonuses is allocated. would have for Northeastern schools.
They wrote to Gavin Williamson again and urged him to reconsider his decision.
Luke Bramhall, Children North-East, said: “The Pupil Bonus is used by schools to provide additional teaching staff, breakfast clubs, additional resources like laptops and tailor-made support for children. their most disadvantaged students.
“During the pandemic, it was used by schools in the North East to provide direct support to families in difficulty.
‘It is difficult to understand how the removal of almost £ 8million from this funding for schools in our region, which has seen some of the worst learning losses in the wake of Covid-19, matches the commitment of better rebuild after the pandemic. ”
The new data also highlights the significant economic impact of Covid-19 on families in the northeast, with nearly 16,000 more students in the region becoming eligible for the WSF between January 2020 and January 2021.
This means that nearly 109,000 children and youth in the North East are now eligible to receive this support, 27.5% of all students, up from 23.5% before the pandemic, the highest rate in the country, and the highest joint increase of anywhere in England.
North East Schools Director Chris Zarraga said: “The North East is seeing a significant increase in Covid-related poverty, including in schools not located in areas of high deprivation, underscored by the increase the number of students eligible for the school bonus.
“School budgets are already suffering due to the continued outbound costs of Covid security measures, and the decision to use October 2020 census data will have a serious negative impact on our students who have already experienced significant disruption during the course. of the last year.
“Any short-term savings from the October census will be more than offset by the longer-term economic losses to the region from not properly helping our students ‘recover’. ”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said bonus funding for pupils is expected to increase to more than £ 2.5 billion this year and the per pupil rates remain unchanged.
The spokesperson said: “A typical school will see an increase in its student bonus allocations this year compared to last year. Any student who becomes eligible after the October census will receive funding the following year.
“We are delivering a £ 14bn increase in school funding over three years, the biggest increase in a decade, and school leaders can target our ambitious stimulus funding, totaling £ 3bn. pounds sterling, to further support disadvantaged students in their success. ”