Education unions call on Government to restore £370m NFF funding

Today, the general secretaries of ASCL, NAHT, NASUWT and NEU have written to education secretary Gillian Keegan about the revision of the National Funding Formula (NFF) announced last Friday, 6 October. 
The letter argues that this reduction breaks a commitment made in the House of Commons in July, and casts doubt on Rishi Sunak's statement to his party conference that "my main funding priority in every spending review from now on will be education".  
The four general secretaries call on the Government to honour its commitment and restore the original NFF rates. 
The full text of the letter is below. 
Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP 
Secretary of State for Education 
Sanctuary Buildings 
Great Smith Street 
SW1P 3BT        
12 October 2023 
Dear Secretary of State 
Revision of the National Funding Formula 
We are writing to you further to the revision of the National Funding Formula (NFF) announced on Friday 6 October. 
On 17 July, Schools Minister Nick Gibb told the House of Commons (1): 
“Funding for mainstream schools through the schools NFF is increasing by 2.7 per cent per pupil compared to 2023-24. 
“The minimum per-pupil funding levels (MPPLs) will increase by 2.4 per cent compared to 2023-24. This will mean that, next year, every primary school will receive at least £4,655 per pupil, and every secondary school at least £6,050. 
“The core factors in the schools NFF (such as basic per-pupil funding, and the lump sum that all schools attract) will increase by 2.4 per cent.” 
On 6 October we were informed that there had been an error resulting in an underestimate in forecasting pupil numbers, and that the NFF tables issued in July were being revised and republished to stay within the already announced Core Schools Budget. 
Funding for mainstream schools through the schools NFF will now increase by just 1.9 per cent. (2) The minimum per-pupil funding level for primary schools will be £4,610 (£45 less per pupil) and for secondary schools it will be £5,995 (£55 less per pupil). The core factors of the NFF will now only increase by 1.4 per cent. 
Government’s revisions to the NFF, in light of higher than forecast pupil numbers, effectively reduce the value of the NFF by £370 million. Schools are already having difficulty balancing their books; some will now face the very real prospect of cuts to provision. 
Sustained investment in the nation’s schools is desperately needed, after years of austerity. We took Mr Gibb’s statement to the House as a Government commitment to schools and parents. In both 2021 and 2022, the projected number of pupils varied from the actual number of pupils counted in the census. On both occasions the Government honoured the announced funding rates.  
On Wednesday 4 October, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the Conservative Party Conference: “And conference, I can tell you, my main funding priority in every spending review from now on will be education.” 
In light of this, we call on your Government to meet that commitment to invest in education, by honouring the commitments your minister made and by restoring the original NFF rates. We also request information on exactly when the Department for Education realised there had been an error over forecasting pupil numbers and when the decision was made to revise NFF rates. 
Yours sincerely 
Daniel Kebede, NEU General Secretary          
Geoff Barton, ASCL General Secretary 
Paul Whiteman, NAHT General Secretary  
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary 
1.       Hansard, School Funding Update, 17 July 2023
2.       DfE, National funding formula for schools and high needs 2024 to 2025, 6 October 2023, page 4