27 January 2012

Three pieces on education in Cornwall.

Individual school funding
First, the 2010/11 funding of individual schools in England has been published by the Guardian here. (I cannot see this yet on the DfE website; on the Guardian site click on Get the data then School spending). I looked at the 2009/10 figures for schools in Cornwall in this post; they showed a vast range across schools as do the latest figures. I explored this topic fully in that post. I hope that Cornish nationalists do not repeat the nonsense of last year about these figures.

Deprived pupils
Second, the education department has published the GCSE results for secondary schools in England. They are here for each school (click on the school name) though not on a comparison spreadsheet for all schools. The tables also show how well and poorly pupils from deprived homes do. There is a press release summarising the dismal findings for too many deprived pupils.

Cornwall EMA
Thirdly, good news from Cornwall Council. A year ago Cornwall MPs voted in support of their Tory Libdem government’s abolition of the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) in England which in December 2010 was helping 7294 young students in Cornwall. This England EMA has been replaced by a bursary scheme for much reduced numbers of students. Students in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland can still get the EMA as it has not been abolished there.

The Tory Independent majority on Cornwall Council wishes to introduce what in effect is a local Cornwall EMA, a supplementary scheme to the England bursary scheme. The details are here. The council’s funding realities mean that it isn’t intended to replace the England EMA, nor to help seven thousand students in Cornwall as the EMA did; its scope is much narrower, the numbers to be helped smaller, and its financing after 2013/14 is unsure. It is called the Cornwall bursary scheme.

Nevertheless, I think it is welcome news that the unitary council is introducing a local supplementary provision. All in all, a very commendable and progressive policy from the Tory Independent council, trying to mitigate the reactionary abolition rather than improvement of the England EMA by the Tory Libdem government.

However, it suggests, does it not, that the Tories in Cornwall have little faith in the adequacy of the replacement England bursary scheme of their own government. They are right about that. At least the local Tories recognise by their actions the failure and inappropriateness of the Tory Libdem abolition of the England EMA and the need to redress that as far as they responsibly can with the funds available to them.

On one point the Libdems and others are right. Around five hundred students resident in east Cornwall but doing a Devonwall and crossing the river Tamar for their college studies are excluded from the scheme. I understand the administrative difficulty but the exclusion is unacceptable and they should be included.

Let me say it plain on the Cornwall bursary. The Tories here have got it right. The Libdems here have got it right. I’m going to lie down now.


14 October 2011

UPDATE 29 March 2015
The pupil premium for local authorities and individual schools for 2014/15 is here.

The Tory Libdem government has published the pupil premium for 2011/12 for each school in England: see here.

This is good news for pupils and schools – assuming it will be used for the direct benefit of the ‘premium’ pupils and will help their attainment – and I welcome it. I want it to make a positive difference; however, it represents only £623 million across England schools, a fraction of what has been claimed to be necessary to make a significant difference; the amount is set to rise in succeeding years. Although Liberal Democrats will claim the premium is due to their influence, all three main parties at the general election advocated such support for disadvantaged pupils (see below).

I am not clear whether the premium will take funds from other education programs or is additional, new education money. The Libdem 2010 election manifesto spoke of “new money to fund the pupil premium”.

I pointed out last year in this post that “A recent study by the Institute for fiscal studies (IFS), A disadvantaged pupil premium, indicates that there is a weak link between perpupil spending and attainment and that perhaps eight times more than the £3000 per pupil previously proposed by the Libdems is needed to make a difference.” The present amount is not £3000 but less than £500 a pupil.

Why does an effectively funded premium matter? The post Poverty and school achievement in Cornwall looks at the compelling evidence of a relationship between material deprivation and school attainment.

Cornwall data
For the schools in Cornwall the premium totals £4.741 million and 10 690 pupils, about 16.4 percent of pupils on roll, are eligible for it. These are figures for all three categories of premium (see the next paragraph).

Eligibility for the premium is based on three categories: 1 free school meals, used as a measure of deprivation, 2 child of an armed forces family, and 3 looked after children. The premium for children in 2 is smaller than in 1 and 3.

In Cornwall about 82 percent of eligible children fall into category 1 and account for about 90 percent of the total premium funds for the county. (The difference in percentages is down to group 2 having a smaller premium.)

Individual schools
I think the individual school data is more meaningful than the countywide data and the data for each school is also available on the above website but to access it you need the school number. Note which category pupil premium is listed. For convenience I have put a list of the school numbers at the foot of this post so that the figures for each school can be found readily; academies are starred. As expected, the eligibility varies vastly across the schools in Cornwall. For example among primary schools, 29.6 percent of pupils at Roskear are eligible for the deprivation pupil premium, 5.5 percent percent at St Hilary: Cornwall is not a uniform place but many different places.

Comparison of Cornwall with the City of London
As some nationalists believe it relevant to compare educational data between Cornwall and the sole state school in the City of London – I don’t – perhaps I might mention that 23.9 percent of pupils in the latter authority are eligible for the premium compared with 16.4 percent in Cornwall. These are figures for all three premiums: the figures for the deprivation pupil premium show a sharper difference (22.5 per cent City, 13.4 per cent Cornwall).

Did only Libdems promise a pupil premium?
No. Look at what the Conservatives and Labour said.

Conservative party election manifesto 2010 “We will introduce a pupil premium – extra funding for children from disadvantaged backgrounds”

Labour party election manifesto 2010 “We will introduce a local pupil premium to guarantee that extra funding to take account of deprivation follows the pupil”

Cornwall schools reference numbers
9082600 Altarnun Community Primary School
9082029 Alverton Community Primary School
9083871 Antony Church of England School
9083549 Archbishop Benson C of E Primary School *
9082524 Berrycoombe School
9082745 Biscovey Junior School
9083392 Bishop Bronescombe C of E Voluntary Aided School
9083888 Bishop Cornish C of E Voluntary Aided Primary School
9082311 Blackwater Community Primary School
9082500 Blisland Community Primary School
9084154 Bodmin College *
9082229 Bodriggy Academy (primary) *
9082606 Boscastle Community Primary School
9082126 Boskenwyn Community Primary School
9082321 Bosvigo School
9082602 Boyton Community Primary School
9083873 Braddock C of E Primary School
9084155 Brannel School
9083381 Breage Church of England School
9082754 Brunel Primary and Nursery School *
9082635 Bude Junior School
9084150 Budehaven Community School
9082413 Bugle School
9082730 Burraton Community Primary School
9084151 Callington Community College *
9082700 Callington Primary School
9082701 Calstock Community Primary School
9084158 Camborne Science and Community College *
9082603 Camelford Community Primary School
9084169 Cape Cornwall School
9082726 Carbeile Junior School
9082503 Cardinham School
9082300 Chacewater Community Primary School
9082449 Charlestown Primary School *
9082615 Coads Green Primary School
9082228 Connor Downs Primary School
9082132 Constantine Primary School
9082121 Coverack Community Primary School
9082103 Crowan Primary School
9082400 Cubert School
9087004 Curnow School
9083383 Cury C of E Primary School
9082226 Cusgarne Community Primary School
9082716 Darite Primary School
9082622 Delabole Community Primary School
9082731 Delaware Community Primary School
9082318 Devoran School
9082710 Dobwalls Community Primary School
9087003 Doubletrees School
9083875 Duloe C of E Voluntary Aided Junior and Infant School
9082605 Egloskerry School
9083893 Falmouth Primary School
9084152 Falmouth School (secondary) *
9083033 Flushing School
9082713 Fourlanesend Community Primary School
9084145 Fowey Community College
9082401 Fowey Primary School
9082439 Foxhole Primary School
9082114 Garras Community Primary School
9082109 Germoe Community Primary School
9082301 Gerrans School
9082100 Godolphin Primary School
9082307 Goonhavern Primary School
9082403 Gorran School
9083034 Grade-Ruan C of E School
9083542 Grampound Road Village C of E School
9083621 Grampound-with-Creed C of E School
9082005 Gulval Community Primary School
9082703 Gunnislake Primary School
9082227 Gwinear Community Primary School
9082128 Halwin School
9082704 Harrowbarrow School (primary) *
9084171 Hayle Community School
9082006 Heamoor Community Primary School
9084146 Helston Community College
9084173 Humphry Davy School
9082240 Illogan School
9082432 Indian Queens Community Primary School and Nursery
9082630 Jacobstow Community Primary School
9082302 Kea Community Primary School
9082208 Kehelland Village School
9082119 Kennall Vale School
9082608 Kilkhampton Junior and Infant School
9083218 King Charles Primary School
9083543 Ladock C of E School
9082112 Landewednack Community Primary School
9082706 Landulph School
9082506 Lanivet Community Primary School
9082508 Lanlivery Community Primary School
9082209 Lanner Primary School
9084009 Launceston College
9082610 Launceston Community Primary School
9082104 Leedstown Community Primary School
9083878 Lerryn C of E Primary School
9082612 Lewannick Community Primary School
9083896 Liskeard Hillfort Primary School
9084167 Liskeard School and Community College
9084168 Looe Community School
9082712 Looe Primary School
9082509 Lostwithiel School
9082032 Ludgvan Community Primary School *
9082510 Luxulyan School
9082238 Mabe Community Primary School
9082113 Manaccan Primary School
9082004 Marazion School
9083183 Marhamchurch C of E VC Primary School
9082741 Marlborough School
9082405 Mawgan-in-Pydar Community Primary School
9083385 Mawnan C of E Voluntary Aided Primary School
9082736 Menheniot Primary School
9082420 Mevagissey Community Primary School
9083879 Millbrook C of E Voluntary Aided Primary School
9082312 Mithian School
9082453 Mount Charles School
9082313 Mount Hawke Academy Primary School *
9084172 Mounts Bay Academy (secondary) *
9082008 Mousehole Community Primary School
9082115 Mullion Community Primary School
9084164 Mullion School
9082116 Mylor Community Primary School
9087005 Nancealverne School
9082028 Nancledra School
9082441 Nanpean Community Primary School
9082134 Nansloe Community Primary School
9082507 Nanstallon Community Primary School
9082751 Newlyn School
9082406 Newquay Junior Academy *
9084165 Newquay Tretherras School (secondary) *
9082628 North Petherwin Primary School
9082617 Otterham Community Primary School
9082511 Padstow School (primary) *
9082133 Parc Eglos School
9082737 Pelynt School
9084166 Penair School: A Science College *
9087002 Pencalenick School (special) *
9082758 Pencoys Primary School
9082023 Pendeen School
9082757 Pennoweth Primary School
9082230 Penpol School
9082213 Penponds School
9084156 Penrice Community College *
9084149 Penryn College *
9082117 Penryn Junior School
9083894 Pensans Primary School
9082718 Pensilva Primary School
9082306 Perran-Ar-Worthal Community Primary School
9082325 Perranporth Community Primary School
9082707 Polperro Community Primary School
9082404 Polruan Community Primary School
9084157 Poltair School
9082748 Pondhu Primary School
9084163 Pool Academy (secondary) *
9082504 Port Isaac Community Primary School
9082749 Porthleven School
9082215 Portreath Community Primary School
9082310 Probus Community Primary School
9083881 Quethiock C of E Voluntary Aided School
9084159 Redruth School: A Technology College
9084160 Richard Lander School
9082521 Robartes Junior School
9082410 Roche Community Primary School
9082241 Rosemellin Community Primary School
9082239 Roskear School
9084143 Saltash community school (secondary) *
9082448 Sandy Hill Academy (primary) *
9082027 Sennen School
9082305 Shortlanesend Community Primary School
9084141 Sir James Smith’s Community School
9083876 Sir Robert Geffery’s Voluntary Aided C of E Primary School *
9082124 Sithney Community Primary School
9082633 South Petherwin Community Primary School
9082314 St Agnes School
9082756 St Breock Primary School *
9082619 St Breward Community Primary School
9085201 St Buryan Primary School *
9083797 St Catherine’s C of E Primary School
9082715 St Cleer Primary School
9082431 St Columb Major Academy (primary) *
9082454 St Columb Minor Academy (primary) *
9082219 St Day and Carharrack Community School
9082752 St Dennis Community Primary School
9083882 St Dominic C of E Volutary Aided School
9082317 St Erme with Trispen Community Primary School
9082231 St Erth Community Primary School
9083891 St Francis C of E Primary School
9082746 St Germans Primary School
9082017 St Hilary School (primary) *
9083715 St Issey Church of England Primary School
9082030 St Ives Infant School *
9082018 St Ives Junior School
9084170 St Ives School, A Technology College
9083463 St John’s Catholic Primary School, Camborne
9082020 St Just Primary School
9082120 St Keverne Community Primary School
9082514 St Kew Community Primary School
9082025 St Levan Community Primary School
9083716 St Mabyn C of E School
9083300 St Maddern’s C of E School, Madron
9083184 St Mark’s C of E Primary School, Morwenstow
9082123 St Martin-in-Meneage Community Primary School
9083887 St Martin’s C of E Voluntary Aided School
9083718 St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Bodmin
9083388 St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Falmouth
9083306 St Mary’s Catholic School, Penzance
9083302 St Mary’s C of E Primary School, Penzance
9083091 St Mary’s C of E School, Truro
9082319 St Mawes Community Primary School
9083884 St Mellion C of E Voluntary Aided School
9083461 St Meriadoc C of E Junior School
9082515 St Merryn School (primary)
9082437 St Mewan Community Primary School *
9083217 St Michael’s Voluntary Controlled C of E Primary School
9082516 St Minver School
9082719 St Neot Community Primary School
9082750 St Newlyn East Primary School
9083886 St Nicolas’ C of E Voluntary Aided School, Downderry
9083892 St Petroc’s C of E Voluntary Aided Primary School
9082438 St Stephen Churchtown Community Primary School
9082723 St Stephens (Saltash) Community Primary School
9082632 St Stephens Community Primary School
9082621 St Teath Community Primary School
9083717 St Tudy C of E Voluntary Aided Primary School
9083301 St Uny C of E School, Carbis Bay
9082444 St Wenn School
9083714 St Winnow C of E School
9082232 Stithians Community Primary School
9082724 Stoke Climsland School
9082747 Stratton Primary School
9082452 Summercourt Community Primary School
9083625 The Bishops C of E Primary School
9084162 The Roseland Community College *
9082326 Threemilestone School
9082623 Tintagel Primary School
9084144 Torpoint Community College
9082125 Trannack Community Primary School
9082634 Tregadillett Community Primary School
9082333 Tregolls School
9082320 Tregony Community Primary School
9082613 Trekenner Community Primary School
9082221 Treleigh Community Primary School
9082234 Treloweth Community Primary School
9082409 Trenance Infant School *
9083885 Trenode C of E School
9082427 Treverbyn Academy (primary) *
9084135 Treviglas Community College
9082522 Trevisker Community Primary School
9082743 Trevithick Learning Academy (primary) *
9082711 Trewidland Community Primary School
9082223 Trewirgie Infant School *
9082222 Trewirgie Junior School *
9082334 Treyew Primary School
9082224 Troon Community Primary School
9082003 Trythall Community Primary School
9082429 Tywardreath School
9082708 Upton Cross Primary School
9083547 Veryan C of E School
9082742 Wadebridge Community Primary School*
9084153 Wadebridge School
9082625 Warbstow Community Primary School
9082233 Weeth Community Primary School
9083390 Wendron C of E Primary School
9082629 Werrington School
9082443 Whitemoor Community Primary School
9082627 Whitstone Community Primary School


12 October 2011

The proposed budget for Cornwall Council for 2012/13 to 2015/16 indicates spending of £700 000 in 2012/13 and again in 2013/14 on a Cornwall replacement of the England education maintenance allowance (EMA). A longer term funding scheme is being sought by the council too. I very much welcome Cornwall Council’s endeavours on this.

However there are two concerns.

The first is that the Cornwall EMA will be funded according to the budget from “one off convergence monies” (paragraph 127 of the proposed budget 2012/13 to 2015/16). Graham Smith wonders on his blog whether this may be against EU rules. We shall see.

The second is the scope of the Cornwall EMA.

In August 2011 there were 7647 recipients of EMA in Cornwall: see here.
£700 000 distributed equally would give each of them a derisory amount so presumably the intention is to give the Cornwall EMA to a much reduced number. In England some students 16-19* will get a bursary of £1200 a year as a replacement of EMA so the council presumably will not be giving them the Cornwall EMA. The money will go to those students from households with the lowest incomes but who are not in receipt of the bursary. I think we are looking at numbers which make the scheme hardly a replacement for the England EMA. Nevertheless, the council is trying to help within the funds it has.

The Council is also exploring the possibility of helping university students from Cornwall but this depends on identifying funding of £3 million a year.

All in all, a very commendable and progressive policy from the council, trying to mitigate a disastrous and reactionary policy from the Tory Libdem government of the UK.

Students in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland can still get the EMA as it has not been abolished there. The abolition of the EMA applies to England only. As far as I can see the council does not make this clear.

* Students who qualify for the bursary include those who are in care, or are care leavers, or are receiving income support, and some who are disabled. See here.


25 July 2011

Cornubia est omnis divisa in partes sescentas

Another story which shows Cornwall divided into parts. Using data from the Office for national statistics (ONS), the University and College Union (UCU) has published an interesting and revealing table listing the constituencies of Britain and the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in each of them who have no formal qualifications. The table is here and here.

I have extracted the data for the Cornwall constituencies, the percentage of people resident in the constituency aged 16-64 who have no formal qualifications and, based on that, the ranking of that constituency out of the 632 ones in Great Britain (where 1st/632 is best, that is, the lowest percentage of unqualified people in the constituency):

Camborne and Redruth 19.6 percent with no qualifications, 597th/632
North Cornwall 16.0, 529
St Austell and Newquay 14.8, 493
Truro and Falmouth 10.5, 296
South East Cornwall 6.4, 96
St Ives 6.0, 83

The mean average for England is 11.1 pc.

Note that the data for St Ives is based on a small sample.

The data refers to people resident in the constituencies at present; it does not refer to the home residences of people when they obtained their qualifications.

Nevertheless, the differences are startling and I repeat again that Cornwall is not one place; there are many Cornwalls. We must learn from the most successful and target intervention where it is needed. It does not usually make sense to see Cornwall as one uniform place, as nationalism tends to do; and it is not sensible to have countywide policies which do not recognise the needs of different parts of Cornwall.

Even within the constituencies there will be notable differences between some wards.

There are several posts on the blog which illustrate the
variations in Cornwall. For an example of nationalist misplaced generalisation about Cornwall and education see this post MK, schools, and the City of London. For an example of different circumstances across Cornwall see Tackling poverty in Cornwall 2011.

The nationalist party Mebyon Kernow (MK) has marked out the difference in per pupil education funding between the City of London and Cornwall. An article on the MK website says: “City of London children are valued twice as highly as those from Cornwall”.

Let me explain why I think this is a misinterpretation.

What is being compared?
In the City of London there is only one maintained state school, primary or secondary; it is Sir John Cass primary school. There are more than two hundred maintained primary schools in Cornwall. There are about 34 000 primary pupils in Cornwall and about 225 in the one and only state school in the City. There is no acknowledgement of this context in the MK website article.

It is not easy to compare such a disparate pair, an education authority with scores of schools and an authority with only one, the data of an individual school with the average data of many.

Key principles for public spending
I set out in my post Stripping the nationalist altar why matching funding to the circumstance of differences in need and costs is just. In a previous post I pointed out that Aristotle had said that treating equals unequally and unequals equally was unjust, disregarding relevant differences was unjust (Nicomachean ethics 5.2.1129 ff). For me, this is a key principle in public spending.

Individual schools
The government most commendably published in January 2011 expenditure at school level. The latest figures are for 2009/10. These mean we can compare individual schools as well as education authorities over a large number of financial and other data. We can cautiously look at the data for the City of London’s one maintained school, a primary, and for maintained primary schools in Cornwall.

Look especially at the costs of primary schools in the City of London and Cornwall (column Q and following). Then look at the figures for eligibility for free school meals (a few Cornwall primaries have a higher proportion of eligible pupils than the City school). Look at the proportions of pupils at the Sir John Cass primary school for whom English is not their first language (69.7 percent) and the vanishingly small proportion in Cornwall primary schools. Most pupils at Sir John Cass, an excellent school, are from minority ethnic backgrounds; again in Cornwall a small proportion. Of course there is a range, quite large, of costs and needs among Cornwall schools which makes me wonder how useful focusing on comparisons between education authorities is.

Valuing pupils
Putting that doubt on one side, the Aristotlean differences mean that in the City of London education authority the per pupil funding is higher than the mean average for maintained primary schools in Cornwall education authority. MK’s website article gives the monetary information; but its article headline (“valued twice as highly”) is infelicitous because ‘value’ carries two distinct meanings that cluster around regard and around the monetary and arithmetic. There are differences in per pupil funding (monetary value) but all pupils are valued (regarded) equally. MK does not explain that the difference in funding is not a question of arbitrarily giving more money to the City of London education authority but rather is intended to reflect differences in costs and needs. Again, I think that variations in funding objectively based on such differences is a just distribution of public money.

Note that the per pupil grant funding for the primary schools at Garras, Germoe, and St Levan, importantly very small primaries in Cornwall, exceeded that for Sir John Cass primary school in 2009/10 (column L). Pupils at these schools are of course not more highly valued (regarded) than pupils at other Cornwall primary schools.

MK disappoints
MK’s approach is general and disappointing. It should provide a detailed analysis of context, funding, costs, and needs, as I suggested in the post Stripping the nationalist altar, and that would command attention; and then from that analysis it should suggest any changes and they would elicit debate and perhaps agreement. For example, there may well be an argument about rurality and funding; let us hear it in detail.

(The City of London Corporation sponsors three city academies for secondary education in deprived inner London boroughs. The funding of these academies is directly from central government and not part of the comparative local authority funding that exercises MK.)

For the numbers and proportions of pupils by ethnicity and English as a second language see the excel file for local authorities (Final data, 17 June 2010) here. Look at tables 12a and 13a.

The MK article specifically mentions supply teachers: the comparative cost data is given in column R and the City of London cost is higher than for every individual primary in Cornwall for 2009/10. However, I think comparison is complex.

Addendum 17 March 2011
Sir John Cass primary school is in the Portsoken ward of the City of London, one of the City’s residential wards. End Child Poverty puts the proportion of children in this ward in poverty in mid-2010 at 47 percent. The figure for Cornwall is 21.3 percent and varies from 6 to 34 percent across Cornwall wards.

Two of the tenets of nationalism here are that Cornwall is especially poor and that we are singled out for unfair funding of our public services by central government; and thus the annual announcements of central government funding of public services in England are often met with dispraise from some Cornish nationalists (and some nationalist-lite Libdems). I think the beliefs are wrong and have regularly disputed them on the blog. I have recently given a positive reading of the latest healthcare funding for Cornwall; I added the relevant Cornwall figures for schools funding without comment to the regular Cornwall data post with, as usual, a link to the source data. I have also responded positively to local government settlements for Cornwall in previous years.

Now I am going to explain why I think the lamentations are misplaced, using the education funding for 2011/12 as a starting point.

Cornwall outgrievanced
Yes, the average per pupil funding for Cornwall is lower than for most education authorities in England – and a higher funding than others, as measured by the guaranteed unit of funding (GUF) data. Note here (the GUFS 2011-12 file) that in 2011/12 the average per pupil funding for Leicestershire will be less than for Cornwall; in fact it will be lower than for Cornwall in seventeen local education authorities. In the current financial year a patient in Buckinghamshire primary care trust area receives less than one in Cornwall. In some areas people receive less per capita funding for both education and healthcare than in Cornwall – Cornwall outgrievanced.

How are schools in England financed?
It might be useful to explain here very briefly and broadly how schools in England are financed. Briefly and broadly, because school funding is too complex to be explained fully here and governments tend to change the details. It can be seen as a two stage process. The vast majority of school funding comes through the dedicated schools grant (DSG), next financial year taking in various other grants. This grant comes from central government and is paid not to individual schools but to local education authorities like Cornwall council. How much DSG each authority gets is decided by a funding formula which I shall look at in the next sections. The local education authority retains some of the money for central services and distributes the rest to schools, applying local filters of priority such as need. Some money is assigned directly by central government to schools.

Different amounts for different needs
Why are some education authorities (and indeed schools and pupils) funded at a higher level than others? Because central government tries, imperfectly, to match circumstances and funding. Circumstances among education authorities and pupils differ; hence funding differs. The education department’s consultation document on the formula for deciding who gets what rightly says this “should reflect that different pupils need different levels of support and that different areas will have different cost pressures” (Executive summary in the 2010 Consultation on the future distribution of school funding).

I say ‘rightly’. I think that the notion of fair funding demands this; it is the core value underpinning the funding process. These differences in funding are intended to reflect differences in needs and costs. Recognising different levels of need matters: for example, there is an association between social deprivation and educational underachievement.

Does anyone seriously challenge the rightness of trying to match circumstances and funding, this core principle? It’s how we try to redistribute public money at present. I assume complaints about perceived unfair funding are not challenging match-the-circumstances as a principle for distributing public funds but rather are claiming that recipients collectively in Cornwall experience objectively unfair funding, the funding they receive not being matched with their comparative collective circumstances, their needs and the costs of providing the services. However, nationalist complaints largely focus on broad comparisons between the funded authorities and do not appear to critique the formulas on which the funding is based, their components and weightings for example, and do not deal with the difference in funding for individual schools. Such an analysis is necessary for any objective case to stand.

Some authorities who receive the lowest allocation of funding have formed a lobby, f40, against what they see as unfair funding and you can read here (Arguments for a fairer funding system for education, March 2009) a serious critique of the present allocation system. This is the sort of detailed approach Cornish nationalism should take if it wishes its case to be heard.

Fair funding is not simply a Cornwall matter as the above paragraph shows. It would be an odd, and I think unacceptable, view of fairness that focused only on a part and disregarded the rest, on Cornwall and disregarded the rest of England and Britain. I have indicated that other places in England are more deprived than anywhere in Cornwall – see the Index of multiple deprivation – and others receive less per capita revenue funding for education and health, for example, than Cornwall, and others claim they receive unfair funding: a full view of fair funding has to recognise that and see Cornwall in context.

Cornwall, free school meals, and school funding
We have data not only for local authorities but for individual schools; in January the Education department published the per pupil GUF funding for each maintained individual school in England for 2009/10. Read the details here – Cornwall’s reference number is 908 in the primary and secondary schools tables. Note the different levels of funding within Cornwall; how different schools in Cornwall get vastly different per pupil amounts. Comparisons between local authorities do not tell the whole story.

The primary and secondary data of per pupil funding by grant income that I have noted above divides schools in three groups, high, medium, or low, according to the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (high means the highest proportion of eligible pupils). Means-tested free school meals are a proxy for deprivation. In each group the median average per pupil funding for Cornwall primary schools collectively is greater than the England median for each of the three groups (excluding London schools which have additional funding to compensate for additional costs). All Cornwall secondary schools are in the low group and their collective median average funding exceeds the England median (excluding London) for secondary schools in the low group. It is detail like this that should caution against simplistic claims of unfair funding.

Free school meals are not the only component making up school funding of course but I think this data shows in relation to free school meals that funding is broadly matched to need.

What is fair funding?
I have explained above that I think fair funding is matching public funds to circumstances. The 2010 consultative document puts it admirably: we “must recognise that the concept of ‘fairness’ does not mean that everyone will get the same. Instead it must reflect that our economy and geography means that different areas have different cost pressures, and that different pupils need different levels of support in order to help them achieve” ( paragraph 1.11). Arguments recognises (paragraph 5.3) that there are higher staffing costs in London, for example.

Belief that one is unfairly treated and is special is common. As Matthew Taylor gently self-mocked in the education debate he initiated: “…there is no member of Parliament who does not believe their constituency is unfairly disadvantaged in comparison to others” (Hansard 2 February 2010 column 71WH). In a debate about local government funding in 2007 John Healey, the minister, ironically said of local lamentations: “…every council regards itself as uniquely disadvantaged by central government funding decisions, and every council has a special case unique to its circumstances” (Hansard 6 December 2007, column 990). I remarked recently in this post on the Parliamentary voting system and constituencies bill in the Lords that Chris Rennard had commented that there was virtually no limit to the number of places regarding themselves as special cases.

How are the funding amounts arrived at?
The distribution of public funding by central government among education authorities is not an arbitrary or random process but a thoughtful one and anyone can scrutinise and interrogate the various workings. The importance of circumstances has been mentioned in the previous section. The 2010 consultation document on school funding is an excellent account of the various criteria and in the recent consultation the government asked for comments on the components that make up the schools grant/funding.

Is the Cornish nationalist case that these departmental workings include elements that are wrongly included or assessed or omit elements that should be included? That the weightings are wrong? That – whatever. As I have said above, let us hear a robust case with a detailed critique.

Does more spending work?
Let me raise one difficult question. Does more general pupil spending improve educational achievement? It appears not though I think more research is required and need-targeted spending is a different issue. Look at the data for per pupil spending and GCSE results in individual schools. Read the analysis made February 2011 in A statistical analysis of secondary school spending which also provides an accessible table of per pupil spending and results.

If there is a lack of correlation of spending and results, what is the educational reason for the complaint about Cornwall’s share of spending? Where is the contrary evidence that pupils in Cornwall are achieving less because of perceived less general educational funding?

Fundamental error in approach to funding
I think nationalism makes a fundamental error in its criticism of the county’s public funding from central government for services like health and education.

Aggregate countywide or even districtwide data hides variety too much, though sometimes it is the only data available and thus we have to use it despite its limitations. Anyone who lives here is well aware that there are poor and prosperous places in Cornwall, even deprived and wealthy streets in the same town. As I have repeatedly said in posts on the blog, we can identify the locations in Cornwall, and in education the individual schools, where there is serious deprivation and poverty. For the schools the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is a reasonable proxy for poverty, though paragraph 4.12 in Arguments offers caveats. We should be looking to focus help on these pupils and places, we should be pressing for more help for where it is needed most.

Although I have tended to stress social deprivation, it is of course not the only component of need. For example, there is a focus on pupils with special education needs to ensure the schools they are in get proper funding for them. To a very large extent meeting the varied needs is already done through the thoughtful national and local distribution formulas but the approach should be advanced much further. The Tory-Libdem pupil premium, with all its imperfections, is basically a right approach in looking to a pupil in need of additional support rather than seeing funding on the basis of only a county. Above a base for all schools, we should centre funds on the pupil and the school he attends.

Look at the range of results for different schools in Cornwall for GCSE examinations. Look at the range in the data from the health observatory for the old districts of Cornwall and the maps of the subwards in those districts. Of course, acknowledging sizable internal differences and seeking to focus on pupil need where it is greatest will diminish a sense that Cornwall is an undifferentiated and uniform county/duchy/crown dependency/kingdom/extraterritorial whatever and heighten a realisation that “Cornwall” is many places, there are many Cornwalls, and people’s experience of life here very much differs one from the other.

Recast the argument
Nationalism should abandon the nonsense of its grievance agenda and recognise the complex reality revealed by the various measures and comparators of deprivation and prosperity and costs and school spending – the comparative data on eligibility for free school meals, imperfect as it is, should be a mandatory primer; a brief comparative glance at the eligibility for free school meal percentages for schools in Durham and in Cornwall would be an instructive starting point. The narrow nationalist argument should be recast. Strip away from the nationalist altar the vessels full of notions that we are a county that is picked on, done down, unfairly funded, uniquely poor. Throw down those beliefs. See Cornwall in context; engage with all the evidence, especially the evidence of the correlation between deprivation and poor educational achievement; recognise the fine detail data and the limitations of a focus on the county; critique the funding formulas; and develop a case that identifies need and its location and ways of getting funds and other resources to support those needs wherever they are in England.


Rurality as a component in public funding is a legitimate concern for Cornwall. For health funding read the Report of the advisory committee on resource allocation (December 2008) which shows how seriously the task of the fair distribution of public funds is taken. Last year the former Libdem MP Matthew Taylor initiated an informed debate on the impact of rurality and small schools in education, focusing on Cornwall: Hansard 2 February 2010 columns 65WH-72WH. In 2010 of 272 maintained schools in Cornwall 196 were classed as rural: DEP 2010-2245 of 9 December 2010.
Rural needs in school funding are discussed in paragraphs 4.14, 4.19, and section here.

Healthcare funding 2011/12

Schools revenue funding 2011/12

These show the factors in assessing education funding for the education authorities and pupils and healthcare

School funding settlement 2011/12 and pupil premium

School finance (England) Regulations 2011. Part 3 sets out formulas for LEAS to use for school budgets.

Deprivation indicator LSOA level. LSOAS, lower layer super output areas; there are 32 480 in England, each with an average population of about 1500. See here for more details.

Primary care trusts: funding and expenditure (House of Commons Library).

Read this interesting inselberg post: Is Cornwall really poor?

Yesterday’s debate in the Commons on the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) in England ended with two votes.

The first vote (division 176) was on the Labour motion that inter alia “recognises the valuable role that the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) has played in supporting young people from less well-off backgrounds to participate and succeed in education…and calls on the government to rethink its decision on EMA”. The government has decided to abolish the EMA and Labour’s motion was in effect opposing abolition. On the first vote George Eustice, Steven Gilbert, Sheryll Murray, Sarah Newton, and Dan Rogerson voted against the Labour motion. Andrew George is not recorded as voting for or against. The Labour motion was defeated.

The second vote (division 177) was on a Tory Libdem government amendment to Labour’s motion that acknowledged that the government “has already begun to replace the educational maintenance allowance system with more targeted support”. This motion in effect agreed with the abolition and replacement of the EMA. On the second vote all six MPs from Cornwall voted for the government amendment which was passed.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs from Cornwall all voted for the amendment and thus for the Tory Libdem government’s policy of abolishing the national EMA in England and replacing it. The EMA’s replacement, the enhanced learner support fund, has not yet been announced in detail. We do not know how much money this replacement scheme will have or how many students will be able to claim under it or how student eligibility will be assessed or much they will be able to claim.

Read the debate: Hansard 19 January 2011 column 860. The votes are at column 953 onwards.

Read too Dan Rogerson’s thoughtful contribution to the debate, starting at column 903.

EDIT 20 January 2011: Andrew George missed the first vote because he was doing an interview. See here.