Important information regarding funding changes
You may have been made aware in either the local or national news that the government is planning to introduce a new ‘National Funding Formula’ for all schools in England. All schools in the country are funded on a local authority basis and as you can appreciate a number of factors are considered when arriving at an overall budget for each child (factors such as deprivation, special needs etc are all taken into account) as well as a basic value weighting for each child. Our Local Authority of Cheshire East, is currently one of the worst funded local authorities in the country (145th out of 150 LAs); other areas of England are funded up to £2,700 more per pupil.
Clearly this is an unfair system based on a ‘postcode lottery’ and as a school we were pleased that the government recognised this and promised to introduce a fairer funding system for schools. In December 2016, the government launched their proposed new, ‘fairer’ funding formula for all schools in England to be phased in from September 2018. “…..In the current system similar schools and local areas receive very different levels of funding with little or no justification. Under-funded schools do not have access to provide the same opportunities to do the best for their children.” The government wanted to revise the National Funding Formula for schools to provide “a system that supports opportunity for all, underpinning social mobility and social justice…..” (Department for Education)
Astonishingly, Cheshire East’s funding has decreased by an average of £87 per child to £4,122 per head and if this proposal were to happen, we would become the worst funded local authority in England. If a child has the misfortune of being educated in Cheshire East they are deemed to have the lowest ‘basic value weighting’ than any other area in the country.
Clearly, this is unfair, wrong and does not meet the principles set out by government. Additionally it means the assurances given, that historically poorly funded authorities would benefit, have not been honoured. It comes down to a basic question of why some children, depending on where they are being educated in the country, are deemed to attract different levels of basic funding than others.
I believe that Headteachers should always remain ‘apolitical’, however, on this issue the very future of our school and the quality of education your child will receive at Sandbach School is at stake. We stand to have £150,000 wiped off our budget each year. This is on top of all the other increasing cost pressures we face, such as, increased employer pension and National Insurance contributions. We have always managed our budget prudently at Sandbach School and will continue to work to do so. In addition, our school has made considerable efficiency savings already.
It is difficult to imagine how we will preserve the quality of the education we provide if this funding proposal goes ahead. The unpalatable implications of this new funding formula for us here at Sandbach School could be:
- The closing of our Sixth Form
- The removal of all non-EBacc subjects from the curriculum (art, music, drama, design & technology etc). Children would only have lessons in English, maths, science, a modern foreign language, history or geography, PE and RE.
- The school only being open for the school day and then closing to save money on utilities – so the ending of all extra-curricular activities before and after school.
- The removal of key support staff, especially those linked to the pastoral care of students and those with special educational needs.
- The real possibility of a four-day school week.
I do not wish to be alarmist nor make political comments but the future of our school as we know it is at stake if this proposed funding formula is implemented. The consultation runs until 22nd March 2017. Please see the web address below; I would urge all parents / carers to respond to the consultation.
All schools (primary and secondary) and Headteachers across Cheshire East are planning a range of responses to raise awareness of the unfairness of this proposal and we really need the support of all parents and carers in every school. We are running a petition in school and have petition cards for parents to sign in our main reception or available at upcoming parents meetings and events. Can I also encourage you to write to our local MP, Fiona Bruce, who is campaigning on our behalf to express your concerns about the consequences of this funding formula for us here at Sandbach School? She has promised to share any feedback and responses with her parliamentary colleagues at Westminster.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at school if you have any questions about this very real threat to your child’s education and the opportunities available to future pupils at Sandbach School. I very much appreciate your understanding in this matter and urge you to support us in our action.