BBC Look North’s lead story last night was a 7 minute piece on school funding at Silkstone and Penistone Grammar which really highlights the huge issues we face and the great injustice and unfairness of the current system. If you missed the programme it’s available to view or download until 2pm today:
To add a little more context for you all:
- Barnsley schools are among the lowest funded schools in the country. The Secretary of State for Education acknowledges that the current system is hugely unfair and specifically cites Barnsley as an example of that unfairness, saying that if we were in Hackney we would receive 50% more funding (this is nothing to do with London weighting; neighbouring local authorities to Barnsley also receive significantly more funding than Barnsley).
- We are also one of the worst funded schools in Barnsley. There are almost 100 primary schools in Barnsley, but only 3 receive less total per pupil funding than ours. The best funded primary school in Barnsley receives almost 50% more funding per pupil than we do.
- So not only are we in the one the worst funded local authorities in the country, we are also one of the worst funded schools in that LA. Quite simply, in funding terms both nationally and locally we are near the bottom of the pile. Our children deserve better.
- We thought the National Funding Formula (NFF) would address the current unfairness for us. In view of our extraordinarily low baseline position, and all that has been said about the move to a fairer funding system, we genuinely believed the NFF would help us, but sadly it does virtually nothing. The NFF proposals would increase our funding by 1.2% in 2018/19 (not the 1.7% cited on Look North).
- The biggest issue for Silkstone with the NFF proposals is that the weighting towards basic funding has been reduced, with an even bigger weighting to additional needs (eg deprivation etc). We absolutely agree that those schools and children with most need should receive more funding; the current system already recognises this but the NFF proposals shift the balance even further against us.
- We are lobbying hard for the NFF proposals to be changed, but so is everyone else, particularly those with most to lose. Look North’s Cathy Killick’s closing comment about the enormous political issues at stake here is very pertinent. We will have to see what happens over the next few weeks following the end of the NFF consultation on 22 March. However, given the government’s small majority (just 17) I think it highly unlikely that the NFF proposals will be implemented in their current form. What changes, if any, will be made, we simply don’t know.
- In the meantime, the governing body, school leadership team and staff are absolutely committed to delivering the best education possible for our children, despite the funding situation we face. Our children deserve the best, even if the government and DfE don’t agree.
If anyone is interested in further reading about school funding and the NFF, there is a very good and balanced analysis on the following blog:
Chair of Governors