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 Post subject: Funding & Bucks Schools
PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:27 pm 
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The letter below came from the head at BHS - but is equally relevant to other main stream schools in Bucks.
If you feel strongly about the 'Fairer Funding' being used as was intended - for the underfunded mainstream Bucks schools - you may want to drop an email to one or more of the councillors listed.

Or you can just see the note if you are interested! :)
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Dear Parents,

As you know, Beaconsfield High School has been facing financial challenges and as parents you have supported the school in a variety of ways. You will know, too, that the Governors and I have also done our best to influence at a more political level. The Grammar School Heads also met with Mike Appleyard on Wednesday 21st January 2015 to express our serious concerns. I now write, on behalf of the school and Governors, to ask you to read the letter below as it relates to Schools Funding for 2015/16. Please take the time to read this information as it is important for your daughter’s future educational opportunities and please do convey your concerns to Buckinghamshire County Council.



All secondary schools receive their money in two parts:

· Sixth Form funding via a national formula from the Education Funding Agency, and

· 11-16 funding via a formula determined in their local authority; in our case, Buckinghamshire.



Every school’s Sixth Form funding has declined steeply in recent years and, for our schools, reduced by almost 20% between 2010 and 2015.



Even though we are an academy now, our 11-16 funding is determined in the same way as maintained schools and, in principle, that is fine as long as the local formula is drawn up to be as fair as it can be.



School budgets are under enormous pressure at the moment, having to absorb inflation, pay awards and pension increases as well as needing to fund the major curriculum changes that are coming in. Our philosophy to date has been to not spend too much time moaning about it but to manage our budgets very tightly and continue to provide the best possible education for our students.



Buckinghamshire has not been, historically, well funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and all school budgets have suffered accordingly over many years. However, last March, the DfE announced “Fairer Funding”: additional money for the lowest-funded authorities to enable them to fund each student at a Minimum Funding Level (MFL). Buckinghamshire was the seventh highest beneficiary out of the 69 authorities who gained additional money.



There are around 3,000 secondary schools in the country and, in 2014-15, 19 out of the lowest funded 20 schools are in Buckinghamshire, even though Buckinghamshire is not itself the lowest-funded authority. Apart from anything else, this shows that the funding problem is not due to the selective system. It is entirely reasonable that selective schools such as ours receive less funding than those schools with students who, for example, have lower prior attainment at the end of Key Stage 2, but both selective and non-selective secondary schools in Buckinghamshire are an average of around 15% below the MFLs the government has calculated and published, showing that there is a degree of ‘equal pain’ at present.



The additional money from the DfE was unambiguously aimed at supporting the education of mainstream students for 2015-16, although even the DfE have accepted that it will not be quite sufficient to fund every student at the MFLs.



However, local authorities are not obliged to pass on the new money in the way that the DfE is expecting. Buckinghamshire, via its Schools Forum, is proposing to allocate a significant proportion of the additional money away from mainstream schools and then to adjust the various ‘factors’ so that our schools will continue to be the lowest-funded in the country by a long way.



We believe that this is very unfortunate and not in the best interests of the children in our schools, who have a right to be funded at a reasonable level. The proposals, in our opinion, will not allow that. We expect school funding to be allocated according to the principles that Buckinghamshire has set out: “… to ensure sufficient funding for schools to meet basic need and target additional resources to those pupils whose needs are greater than the average”.



Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet will be meeting on 27th January to discuss the proposals. If you want to influence this decision then the County Councillors listed below are those who will be involved. We would be very grateful if you could contact the Councillors to ask them to reconsider the formula for the 2015-16 funding model in order that more funds can be made available to mainstream (selective and non-selective) schools, allocated in line with the principles underpinning Fairer Funding. The final decision is made by Mike Appleyard, so if you only send one email, please send it to him.



Yours sincerely



Annette France

Headteacher





Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet members

Mr Martin Tett Leader and Cabinet Member mtett@buckscc.gov.uk



Mr Mike Appleyard Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Education and Skills mappleyard@buckscc.gov.uk



Mr Bill Bendyshe-Brown Deputy Cabinet Member for Education and Skills bbendyshe-brown@buckscc.gov.uk



Mrs Lesley Clarke OBE Cabinet Member for Planning & Environment lmclarke@buckscc.gov.uk



Mr P Hardy Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources phardy@buckscc.gov.uk


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:39 pm 
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Schools Forum is made up of Headteachers and Governors and a few others and they decide the formula, not Bucks CC ... I note she does not mention how the funding is being 'diverted'.

The minutes are online and, before you respond, may I suggest you read the full minutes so you can understand the whole picture?

https://democracy.buckscc.gov.uk/mgComm ... spx?ID=461


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:00 pm 
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Chesham and both of the Challoners sent out something similar this week. This is the DCGS letter, the DCHS one was pretty much identical.

Quote:
Following our letter sent last term about the financial challenges facing the school, we are writing with a further update and to ask for your help. The government has provided some extra money to help the lowest funded schools in England, of which DCGS is one. Unfortunately, it seems likely that your son will not receive the full benefit because of a decision which is in the hands of Bucks County Council. We would therefore ask you to contact Councillor Mike Appleyard, the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, and your local County Councillor and urge that every pupil in Buckinghamshire should benefit equally - as the government intended - from this desperately needed additional funding. If you are interested in the background, some further detail is set out below. All grammar schools are in a similar position and the Heads of Dr Challoner’s High School and Chesham Grammar School are writing to their parents along similar lines to ask for their help.

Background
There is a major problem of inequitable funding in English schools. Otherwise similar schools with similar students receive widely varying amounts of money purely because of where they are located. For example, if a school like DCGS was located just across the border in Slough rather than Buckinghamshire, it would receive an additional £1200 per pupil. This represents a massive disparity of 36% and would equate to approximately £1M of additional revenue. It is therefore no co-incidence that the 12 lowest funded grammar schools in England are all located in Buckinghamshire. Successive governments have toyed with the idea of a proper National Funding Formula which would put right such unjustifiable and irrational variations. However, such proposals keep falling foul of election cycles and the present government shelved its proposals last year. In lieu of a proper long-term solution, the Department for Education recognised that Buckinghamshire was one of the lowest funded authorities in England and granted them an extra £17.2 million of new funding. This was provided with a single unambiguous purpose: to address the long-standing historic under-funding of mainstream school pupils. Although our schools are independent of the Local Authority, Buckinghamshire County Council still determines the allocation of funding for 11-16 students in our schools. Unfortunately, decisions made by the Council over a period of time have exacerbated the problems outlined above.

Local Decision Making
In making such decisions, the Council has to consider the advice of the Schools Forum. This is a group which consists of headteachers, governors and union representatives. Following a consultation with schools, the Schools Forum has recommended movement of funds away from mainstream pupils, with Early Years education receiving £500,000 and ‘High Needs’ pupils receiving an extra £3.4M. We recognise that, for a variety of reasons, there is pressure on the Council’s budget in both these areas. However, the extra government money was not allocated for these purposes and should not be diverted to plug gaps elsewhere, however pressing the need.
The Council is also proposing to allocate some of the remaining £13.3 million according to ‘pupil characteristics’, with a particular weighting towards the funding of lower prior attainment. If implemented, this would mean that grammar schools would on average receive only half as much as other schools. This model was not favoured by the majority of respondents to the consultation and, in our view, is unfair. Schools already receive different funding levels to reflect the needs of their particular pupils. Grammar School Headteachers respect and agree with that position. However, this extra government money is designed to help every pupil’s funding to get closer to the national average. It should therefore be
applied equally across the board to achieve that goal.

How you can help
This issue will be decided by Councillor Appleyard personally within the next couple of weeks, so we need your support urgently. You have the opportunity to influence this decision by contacting him and your local County Councillor and expressing your concerns. Cllr Appleyard has said he wants to treat all schools fairly – the best way to achieve this is surely to distribute the full value of this extra funding equally to every pupil.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:18 pm 
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Guest55 wrote:
Schools Forum is made up of Headteachers and Governors and a few others and they decide the formula, not Bucks CC ... I note she does not mention how the funding is being 'diverted'.

The minutes are online and, before you respond, may I suggest you read the full minutes so you can understand the whole picture?

https://democracy.buckscc.gov.uk/mgComm ... spx?ID=461


Interesting - thanks for the link!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:41 pm 
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We got I think exactly same letter today from swbgs


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:52 am 
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We got the same one from RGS and I think but it is only my opinion that we should make a fuss and all children other than those with statements should get equal funding


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:59 am 
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Please read the minutes of the meeting where the funding was decided.

It's interesting which schools are sending this letter ...


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:31 am 
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Guest55 wrote:
Please read the minutes of the meeting where the funding was decided.

It's interesting which schools are sending this letter ...


Interesting in which way? They seem the ones with the leafier catchments ...


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:37 am 
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Exactly! I scanned most of the GS websites last night for letters and saw nothing beyond these.

Ironically, one of the schools mentioned has a HT on Schools Forum ....


Last edited by Guest55 on Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:56 am 
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Funding is always a difficult emotive issue and I can see both sides to it. My ds (and hopefully my dd) attend quite possibly one of the leafiest bucks grammars (and our primary is very similar too) and I do feel a bit :( :? at apparent inequalities in funding if I'm honest ...


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