Headteachers in Buckinghamshire schools are sending home a letter today updating parents on the 'bleak future' ahead for all local schools.
Alan Rosen, Aylesbury High School's headteacher said: "Buckinghamshire does gain additional funding if the National Funding formula is implemented as proposed, and all extra money is welcome, but the relatively small amount of extra money is completely wiped out by the pressures on our budgets caused by pension and NI increases, inflation and other reductions in our funding.
"Parents are invited to contact their MP to alert them to the bleak future ahead for all local schools in all phases of education, highlighting the anticipated 6-10% reduction in school funding over the next three years, described as the biggest real-terms cut in education spending in a generation.
"Our campaign is intended to alert parents and MPs of the realities of the next few years which, without a more focused and considered Government response, is going to be incredibly challenging for all Buckinghamshire schools.
"As Buckinghamshire continues to be one of the lowest-funded authorities in the country, all schools in the county have a strong case for seeking a fair level of funding to protect the high quality education that all of our children deserve."
All Bucks Primary and Secondary schools have been invited to send out the letter - featured below:
I am writing to all parents of (School Name) at the same time as Headteachers across Buckinghamshire, to let you know of our real concerns about the funding crisis that already exists in our schools and which is destined to get even worse. These concerns are shared across most of the country and in all types and phases of school.
We don’t want to be alarmist but there is a wealth of recent evidence produced not just by schools but also by the National Audit Office1 (NAO), the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IfS), the Education Policy Institute2 , f40 (the organisation representing the lowest-funded local authorities), the National Governors’ Association, and all the main teachers’ professional associations.
The consistent message is that schools face an average reduction in their budgets of 8-10% by 2020, described as the biggest real-terms cut in education spending in a generation.
We appreciate that education cannot be immune from the economic realities faced across the public sector, and it is quite right that we should find more and more efficient ways of operating; we must make the best use of every penny of public money that we receive.
Ministers have repeatedly claimed that our education funding is protected in real terms - it is not, and bodies such as the NAO confirm this.
We feel that the Government should be the champions of education but Ministers seem to be in denial about the realities of school funding and its impact on children – the crisis in teacher recruitment is there for all to see as a clear example of the need for better policies and proper investment in our children’s futures.
There is also a multibillion pound shortfall in money for school buildings which means that premises are deteriorating and ultimately will cost more to repair than if an adequate amount was invested each year.
The harsh reality is that not only are our budgets being squeezed, we are also having to take on ever more expenditure as the services that we have previously accessed are either being cut, charged for, or are failing to operate properly, as their budgets are also under severe pressure – this applies to social care, mental health and school improvement services, to name just three.
The Government is currently finding significant amounts of money for a number of education schemes which are ill-defined and unlikely to achieve their stated aims. We believe that an objective appraisal of education’s priorities would highlight core funding as key to achieving the world-class system that we would all agree is right for our children.
We welcome the NFF in principle as the present set-up is so unfair and has been for many years. However, it includes no new money, meaning there are winners and losers, and Ministers are proposing to hard-wire in unfairness by protecting those schools that have historically been relatively highly funded, restricting the level of funding that lower-funded schools can receive.
This seems to be for political rather than educational reasons – we believe that a child should attract the same level of funding wherever they live (based on their educational needs, plus an adjustment for Area Costs to reflect higher labour costs in some areas); the Government’s proposals don’t support this and fail to identify the minimum funding that every child should attract.
So what can we do? We will continue to run our schools as efficiently as we can, and will do our absolute best to protect our children from the harsh realities of the funding landscape now and in the near future.
We will lobby the Government and continue to challenge them wherever their policies seem to be counter to the needs not only of our children but all children nationally. If you share our concerns, we would invite you to add the weight of your opinion to strengthen our voice, by writing to your MP and asking them to take up the crisis in school funding with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Education on your behalf.
A list of MPs can be found at www.theyworkforyou.com/mp.
Finally, we are proud of what we are achieving as an education service at a time of significant change to the curriculum, to technology and to the world around us. Of course our school report will always say, “Could do even better” and that’s as it should be – we need to be challenged to provide the best possible education for every child in the country – but we do need the backing of the Government to achieve our goals.
Money is not the only ingredient to make this happen, but it certainly helps. Thank you for your support and understanding.