PUPILS at Bexley schools are among the lowest funded in London at both primary and secondary level, according to a report.

The new survey by the National Association of Headteachers highlights the disparities in local education authority funding across London and the rest of the country.

Despite spending just £1,971 per pupil at primary level and £2,675 per secondary pupil, the borough consistently finishes in the top half of the national league tables at both primary and secondary level.

This compares with other London boroughs such as Kensington and Chelsea, which spends £3,019 per primary pupil and £3,898 per secondary pupil.

NAHT representatives branded the shortfall "a disgrace" and put it down to the low level of basic government funding handed to schools in the form of the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA).

The NAHT wants funding to be levelled out across education authorities so those areas losing out including Bexley are given a fair deal.

General secretary of the NAHT David Hart said: "A new funding system is due to be introduced in April 2003. It will fail unless it creates a more level playing field."

But a spokesman for Bexley council defended the low spending per pupil in the borough, pointing out Bexley's high-standing in the national league tables.

The spokesman said: "Bexley spending is closely related to what the Government thinks we ought to spend. We are moving ever closer to that figure which is now about 1.8 per cent below the SSA and will be even closer next year.

"The Governments' SSA allocation roughly reflects the needs of a local authority. Bexley performs well because it is a well-managed authority with highly-motivated teachers and headteachers ."