WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

School budget reforms will hit pupils, warns head

MP Karen Buck says school is due to lose a quarter of a million pounds in funding

06 February, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Dr Saima Rana, headteacher at Westminster Academy

A HEADTEACHER has warned that pupils will be affected by school funding reforms that will wipe a quarter of a million pounds from the budget. Westminster Academy, in Harrow Road, will be worst hit when the new school “funding formula” comes in.

Dr Saima Rana told the West End Extra: “Not only have the thresholds for claiming free school meals been adjusted, meaning fewer students are entitled to them, but now we are facing the very real issue of having in excess of £250,000 taken from our budget. We are still unclear as to the rationale behind this when every penny of our funding is used to raise standards and improve outcomes for all of our students, who otherwise may not have the same life chances. I have real concerns that the opportunities we are currently able to provide will, in light of such a substantial budget cut, be reduced significantly.”

The national funding formula, which the government is currently consulting on, will redistribute funds for schools across the country. Critics fear inner-city schools could be worst hit.

Westminster Academy, which is rated Out­-standing by Ofsted, is in the top 5 per cent of schools in the country for new “Progress 8” scores, which measure achievement gains in pupils between the end of primary and secondary school. More than 60 per cent of pupils at Westminster Academy were on free school meals in the last academic year, compared to 29.3 per cent nationally.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck raised the issue at the House of Commons during a debate about the proposed national funding formula.

She said: “There is great passion among the teachers in schools such as Westminster Ac­ademy, which has one of the highest proportions of children on free school dinners anywhere in Britain, but that school stands to lose at least £250,000. How is that fair?”

She told the House: “According to analysis undertaken by the council, all but two secondary schools are potential losers, including Westminster Academy, Paddington Academy, St George’s, St Augustine’s, Pimlico Academy, St Marylebone and Westminster City.

“Primaries that face losses include George Eliot, St Joseph’s, St Luke’s, Robinsfield and Barrow Hill. Many Westminster children attend schools across the borders in Kensington, Camden and Brent, which are hit even harder.”

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