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!
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.
Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet members
Mr Martin Tett Leader and Cabinet Member firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Mike Appleyard Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Education and Skills email@example.com
Mr Bill Bendyshe-Brown Deputy Cabinet Member for Education and Skills firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs Lesley Clarke OBE Cabinet Member for Planning & Environment email@example.com
Mr P Hardy Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources firstname.lastname@example.org