Dear parents and carers
Further to my blog post of 15th February on Silkstone Primary’s funding which included a copy of the letter we have sent to our local MP, Angela Smith, I am posting below a copy of a letter that Penistone Grammar School ALC (PGS) sent yesterday to all its parents and carers.
Most of our children, including mine, go to PGS when they leave Silkstone and it is very important that, as parents and carers, you are aware of the financial issues that PGS is facing. The letter explains in overview the current position. Nationally, there are only 3 secondary schools (out of 1,143) with lower per pupil basic funding than PGS. PGS is inviting parents, carers and the wider community – that includes all of us – to meetings to hear about this.
We are blessed with excellent schools in our local villages and community, including Silkstone Primary and PGS. However, without exception all our local schools are hugely underfunded, both absolutely and relative to other schools, whether elsewhere in Barnsley, or nationally.
The Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP, born, brought up and state-schooled just down the road in Rotherham says in the introduction to the National Funding Formula consultation that:
“Underfunded schools do not have access to the same opportunities to do the best for their children, and it is harder for them to attract the best teachers and to afford the right support. That is why introducing fair funding was a key manifesto commitment. This unfairness is seen right across the country. For example, as we said in the first stage of our consultation, a school in Barnsley could receive 50% more funding, with no changes to its circumstances, if it were situated in Hackney instead.”
On the face of it, given our historic chronic underfunding, these grand words appear to offer the prospect of fairer and significantly improved funding for our schools. Sadly, they are shallow and empty words. The National Funding Formula proposals do very little to tackle underfunding for our local schools. In fact in some cases they make it worse, despite our pitifully low base-line position. This is not a party political comment – our schools have been chronically underfunded for far too long, under all shades of government.
I encourage you to read the letter below, to engage with these issues, and, if possible, to attend one of the meetings at PGS to hear more.
This is our children’s futures at stake. We have only a very limited window of opportunity for our voices to be heard by government. Lets make our voices count.
Chair of Governors, Silkstone Primary School
Date: 17 February 2017
Dear Parents and Carers
Are you aware that there are only 3 maintained schools in the country which receive less basic entitlement funding per pupil than Penistone Grammar School ALC?
YOUR CHILD DESERVES FAIR FUNDING
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
Parental support for the work we do at Penistone Grammar School ALC has always been highly valued by us. If there was ever a time when we have needed to call upon your support, it is now.
As you will have no doubt seen in the press over recent months, school funding is at the forefront of the political arena and there have been many examples of schools and Local Authorities, such as West Sussex, taking drastic measures to highlight the financial challenges they face. Our challenge is no less great; in fact we are in real terms one of the most poorly funded schools. Of the 1,143 maintained secondary schools in the country, there are only 3 who receive less basic entitlement funding per pupil than us.
It is time now for Penistone Grammar School to ensure that our plight to achieve fairer funding is known and widely publicised.
If we do not take action now, our school will be thrown into crisis. We have a small window of opportunity to challenge the proposals put forward by the Government and ensure your children receive the funding they are entitled to, much earlier than the proposed implementation plan allows for.
We are therefore holding a number of meetings to provide further information about our situation and most importantly, to let you know how you can help us to influence the decisions that are currently being made through the formal consultation (this closes on 22 March 2017).
The meetings are open to anyone to attend, including your friends, family and members of the local community. We urge as many people as possible to join us in our campaign and get the voices of Penistone Grammar School ALC heard at the highest levels.
Saturday 4 March at 10:00 (Sign up to attend this meeting here)
Monday 6 March at 14:30 (Sign up to attend this meeting here)
Monday 6 March at 18:30 (Sign up to attend this meeting here)
Please note: The same information will be presented at each meeting; we have offered three opportunities to ensure as many of you as possible can attend.
Further information about the government’s proposals can be found via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/schools-national-funding-formula-stage-2. Should you have any questions please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David O’Hara Jo Higgins Paul Crook
Chair of Governors Principal Associate Principal