Have to see how this one plays out, but if it means a more equal distribution of money to schools then so much the better.
I think it's fascinating that a government that's talked about transferring power out of Whitehall to local people now seems set on removing control from locally elected councils and taking it back to the centre!
I don't know that we want a "more equal distribution of money to schools" - we want a distribution that reflects the needs etc of schools (if one school has buildings which are falling down and another has good buildings then it doesn't make sense to give them equal money. Similarly, if one school has a population that joins at age 11 and leaves at age 18, they may need less money than one where there's a 50% turnover of pupils per year). These are the kinds of things that local councils ought to be able to deal with and central government can't do so well.
This is one of the ideas which has made me smile more that most of the stuff which has come out of DfE recently.
The scrapping of BSF as a programme but still keeping capital projects going has freed up some LAs to look at areas that are not typically seen as area of deprivation. Most think of deprivation as to do with urban areas, but you get rural deprivation too, with some stark segregation between the haves and the never likely to haves. Since a lot of the funds over the last 15 years have been aimed at urban deprivation (and it has been needed) it is only fair that it is spread a bit more equally ... the downside is that some urban area will lose out, but since rural areas have lost out for many years it will even out eventually.
The consultation will take about a year. I can already predict some of the arguments for and against. You will have a number of people that react slightly cynically (or perhaps with a dose of realism) about the political motivation, pointing out that it could give certain people at the Department (and other political masters) the chance to prioritise marginal constituencies ... you may find some people who are looking to empire build with the schools arena who will jump on this as a chance to curry favour and get what they want at the expense of schools not under their control ... and you will get those who see it as a chance to change out of one system into another because the previous system hasn't worked for them.
The reduction in LA roles will mean the Dept can cut some money out of it as an efficiency saving, or they could pass some (or all) of the savings onto schools and call it an increase in direct funding (the use of the word direct means that you only consider average funding for each school rather than the total funding for all schools).
The consultation will be haled by the unions as a chance for fairness of funding one week, and then as the centralised control of a power mad dept the next. Whichever gets more press at the time.
I'm sure I missed some bits out ... but be sure that a chunk of the decision which is made on this will be political (as was the creation, running and then scrapping of BSF) so don't expect it to be as common-sense as you would like.
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