Proposed new National Funding Formula for schools in England – Removal of non-EBacc Subjects from the curriculum

The letter below has been written by my Headmaster at Alsager School, Cheshire, UK detailing the proposed new National Funding Formula for schools in England.

I wanted to raise awareness of the proposals and if actioned the possible catastrophic effect it will have on children’s education, staff and future employment opportunities across the country.  The consequences of the proposed National Funding are very difficult to contemplate and far reaching, decimating the education and future career options of children in Cheshire East.

The implications of this new funding formula for students and staff here at Alsager 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!

Schools across Cheshire East are coming together to raise awareness of the unfairness of this proposal.

We have been encouraged to contact our local MP, Fiona Bruce fiona.bruce.mp@parliament.uk  She has promised to share any feedback and responses with her parliamentary colleagues at Westminster.

The very future of my school and primary and secondary schools across Cheshire East is at stake.

“Imagination is the source of all human achievement”

Sir Ken Robinson

Alsager School

Proposed new National Funding Formula for schools in England Letter

Dear Parents / Carers

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 LA of Cheshire East, is currently one of the worst funded local authorities in the country (145th out of 150 LAs). This means that your son or daughter currently carries a ‘basic value weighting’ on average (from primary to secondary school) of £4209. Whereas if your child were being educated at a school in nearby Staffordshire for example, they would attract £4311 of basic funding from reception to year 11.

Clearly this is an unfair system based on a ‘postcode lottery’ and as a school we were delighted when in 2015 the government recognised this and promised to introduce a fairer funding system for schools, as clearly children being educated in poorly funded areas such as Cheshire East were being disadvantaged.

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 £4122 per head and if this proposal were to happen, we would become the worst funded local authority in England. So 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. The local authority will lose £9.3 million from its education budget and I am afraid the children in Cheshire East will suffer. Whereas in neighbouring Staffordshire it has increased to an average of £4387 per head.

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 are 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 son or daughter will receive at Alsager is at stake. We would have £151,000 wiped off our budget each year. This is on top of all the other increasing cost pressures facing all schools, linked to increased employer pension contributions and National Insurance contributions and there is no additional funding to cover this. We have always managed our budget prudently at Alsager and will continue to work to do so. In addition, our school has made considerable efficiency savings already but unfortunately there are no more areas remaining where savings can be made.

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 Alsager 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 am in no way trying to be alarmist here nor make political comments but the future of our school as we know it is at stake if this proposed funding formula happens. The consultation runs until 22nd March 2017.

Please see the web address below and I would urge all parents / carers to respond to the consultation. https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula2/

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.

Can I please encourage you to contact our local MP, Fiona Bruce, who is campaigning on our behalf (fiona.bruce.mp@parliament.uk) to express your concerns about the consequences of this funding formula for us here at Alsager? 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 son or daughter’s education and the opportunities available to future pupils at Alsager School. I very much appreciate your support and understanding in this matter and urge you to complete the consultation and contact our MP.

Yours faithfully

Richard Middlebrook

Headteacher

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s