Disadvantaged pupils set to lose out through ‘levelling up’

School funding increases following the Government’s ‘levelling up’ strategy are benefitting pupils from more affluent backgrounds the most, reveals new analysis.

A more targeted approach to levelling up is required, says the EPI.
A more targeted approach to levelling up is required, says the EPI.

A study from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) suggests that over a four-year period, disadvantaged pupils and those from ethnic minorities – or with English as a second language (EAL) – will have received real-terms funding increases at around two-thirds the rate of their better-off peers.

Its data suggests that the longstanding link between school funding and pupil need is being eroded by the Government’s policy of levelling up. 

The EPI says that by directing a proportion of additional funding towards schools with historically lower levels of funding, the Government is ensuring that pupils from more affluent backgrounds see greater increases than those from poorer backgrounds. Schools with historically lower levels of funding tend to be located in more affluent areas.

This is supported by its data comparing the per pupil funding in 2021-22 to that in 2017-18, the last year before the introduction of the National Funding Formula, which finds that:

▪ Pupils who have English as an additional language have received increases at half the rate of other pupils in both primary and secondary schools

▪ Pupils from non-White British backgrounds have received increases at just over half the rate of other pupils in both primary and secondary schools; and –

▪ Pupils who are eligible for free school meals have received increases at around two-thirds of the rate of non-FSM pupils.

Comparisons for 2020-21 with 2021-22 highlight that funding for White-British pupils in primary schools will increase at more than twice the rate of non-White British pupils, while non-EAL pupils will receive increases that are three times the rate of EAL pupils.

Pupils eligible for free school meals in primary schools will receive increases of 0.6 per cent in comparison to 1.1 per cent for non-FSM pupils, after controlling for inflation.

David Laws, executive chairman of the Education Policy Institute, said: ‘School closures this year will have been especially harmful for the learning outcomes of the poorest pupils. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds will need maximum support to ensure their life chances are not damaged by this period of disruption. 

‘But by skewing extra funding towards more affluent pupils, the government’s approach of ‘levelling up’ school funding is fundamentally at odds with this goal.

‘Now, more than ever, we need well-targeted policies to prevent a real social mobility setback in this country.’

Read the full report, Analysis: School Funding Allocations 2021 – 22 here

 

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