Plans to shake-up school funding do not do enough to address the ‘double disadvantage’ faced by many poorer pupils living in deprived areas, according to the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation.

The charities’ joint submission to the Government’s consultation on the National Funding Formula highlights how “economic and educational inequalities hinder social mobility and decrease the chances of poor children achieving the same levels of academic success as their more advantaged peers”.

It draws on previous research by Oxford University for the Trust that found pupils who were from a disadvantaged background and who lived in a poorer neighbourhood were much less likely to take A-levels than disadvantaged pupils from better-off areas.

Historically, schools in neighbourhoods with high levels of deprivation and with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils have received more money to meet those needs. However, the Trust and the EEF are concerned that the National Funding Formula “seems to advantage schools with low prior attainment ahead of schools with high deprivation”.

The Government use additional needs factors to allocate funding to schools. They are proposing that funding based on low prior attainment is weighted at 7.5%, while additional cash for pupils from disadvantaged home and area deprivation is weighted at 5.5% and 3.9% respectively.

The Trust and EEF are calling on the Government to make sure funding better reflects the particularly challenging circumstances of deprivation at home and its effect on children’s chances in schools.

In their submission, the Trust and the EEF also raise concerns about real-term cuts to individual school budgets through the new formula, and the impact they may have on pupils. While they agree that there needs to be a rebalancing of funding to other parts of the country, they are concerned that the funding formula as it stands will have a particularly negative impact on education in London.

They note that “London schools have seen real improvements since 2000, bringing many in inner London above the national average. It would be a mistake to punish their achievements by cutting back funding to such an extent that the high educational outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in the capital are put at risk.”

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said today:

“While we welcome plans for a fair and transparent funding system, the Government proposals do not do enough to recognise the double disadvantaged that pupils from poor homes and deprived neighbourhood face.

“It is particularly concerning that schools serving poorer pupils in London look set to lose out. We are worried that this could jeopardise the work that schools in the capital have done to improve results for poor pupils.”


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 180 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  2. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a grant-making charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust (now part of Impetus–The Private Equity Foundation), with a £125m founding grant from the Department for Education. The EEF is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £80 million to 133 projects working with over 850,000 pupils in over 8,300 schools across The EEF and Sutton Trust are, together, the government-designated What Works Centre for Education.
  3. Background to Success investigated patterns of academic attainment for different subgroups of a longitudinal sample of more than 3,000 students. The researchers found that white working class boys from poor neighbourhoods face a ‘double disadvantage’ of low family income and place poverty – linked to their wider community – which significantly reduces their likelihood of academic study after GCSE.


Media enquiries

If you're a journalist with a question about our work, get in touch with Hilary or Ruby. If it's out of office hours, you can call or text 07917 462 164.

E: [email protected] T: 020 7802 1660

Keep up to date with the latest news