Cheshire East Schools' Funding
A delegation of ten people from Cheshire East schools, the local authority and MPs met with Minister for Schools Nick Gibb yesterday (Monday), to discuss the recent proposals from the National Funding Formula.
The delegation comprised: Fiona Bruce MP; David Rutley MP; Antionette Sandbach MP; Cllr Rachel Bailey, Leader Cheshire East Council; Jacky Forster Director of Education CEC; John Leigh, headteacher Sandbach High School; David Hermitt, headteacher Congleton High School; Sara Burns, headteacher Sandbach School; Richard Middlebrook, headteacher Alsager School and Ed O’Neill, headteacher Eaton Bank Academy.
The meeting with the minister was a result of the speech by Fiona Bruce MP in the Commons in December, highlighting the difficulties faced by schools in Cheshire East following the recent announcement of the national funding formula.
It had been hoped that, after several years of poor funding, the borough’s schools would have received a greater contribution and this was discussed with the minister.
Cheshire East Leader Rachel Bailey said: “I acknowledge the work and support of our local MPs and schools. Cheshire East Council is committed to continue to work with schools to develop options to present to the minister as part of the consultation. This is to ensure we protect the outstanding education and skills offer across Cheshire East. Our children and young people have a right to at least the same minimum national curriculum offer and opportunities which other similar schools and authorities will have. We are extremely proud of all our schools and we wish to do all we can to help them to continue to deliver the very high standard of education that has rewarded many of our schools with good or outstanding Ofsted ratings.”
After hearing of the many concerns expressed by the delegation, the Minister gave a clear commitment to work with the local authority, Cheshire East schools and MPs to explore a number of potential avenues to address the current funding situation as part of the ongoing consultation process, which would continue until March.
The meeting was described as focused and productive, the minister listened to the range of reasoned points, including the inequality of the proposed funding, the seriously damaging effect on curriculum provision, the attendant drop in teaching standards, vastly reduced extra-curricular opportunities for children and the economic reality of the unsustainable financial viability of schools in Cheshire East.
The minister indicated a clear commitment to work with headteachers, the local authority and MPs to explore a number of potential exceptional circumstances that have created an anomaly.