The huge disparity in per-pupil funding across Buckinghamshire’s 35 secondary schools has been laid bare in new government data.
Concerns have been raised over the Government’s plans to reform education funding, with researchers fearing that many schools will be no better off under the new framework than they were a decade ago.
Data from the Department for Education reveals that Buckinghamshire UTC received £6,496 in funding for each of its 102 pupils this academic year.
At the other end of the scale, 14 schools were allocated the lowest per-pupil sum of £4,760.
The Chalfonts Community College, which has the largest number of pupils (1,300), came 17th in the table, with a per-pupil fund of £4,883.
The new experimental figures cover all state-funded maintained schools and academies in England.
Schools funding comprises budgets set by the local authority alongside cash from government grants. The current system, in which budgets are set according to what has been awarded historically, allows for huge differences in how much funding pupils living in different areas of the country receive.
A national funding formula, first announced by the Government in 2016, will replace more than 150 different formulae with one nationwide system. All local authorities will have to follow the new formula by 2021.
However, the Education Policy Institute think tank says the new approach could direct extra cash towards more affluent schools which “risks widening the education attainment gap”.
Jon Andrews, deputy head of research at the EPI, said: “Schools have seen growing pressures on budgets in recent years. Between 2009-10 and 2019-20, school funding per pupil fell in real terms by around 8%.
“The Government’s plans would reverse these school funding cuts, but that would still mean that per pupil funding in 2022-23 is no higher in real terms than in 2009.
“The Government has vowed to ‘level up’ school funding, by increasing the minimum level of per pupil funding that primary and secondary schools receive. This approach will, however, disproportionately direct additional funding towards more affluent schools with the least challenging intakes.”
Under the NFF, the minimum per-pupil funding levels in 2020-21 will be set at £5,000 for secondary schools, while primary schools will get a minimum of £4,000 per pupil from 2021-22, according to a DfE spokesman.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Schools are struggling to meet demand because the number of pupils has significantly increased since 2010-11, and school costs have risen faster than inflation.
“They have also been hampered by successive Conservative-led Governments unwilling to accept that it is they who are choking the system and failing generations of young people.”
The DfE spokesman added: “We recognise schools have faced cost pressures in recent years – that is why we are levelling up funding to ensure all schools have the right investment to deliver an outstanding education.
“This means that every school in the country will see per pupil funding rise at least in line with inflation next year.”