Heads urge parents and the community to support “Fund the 8%”

Local headteachers have engaged parents this week with the aim of building the momentum of their “Fund the 8%” campaign. The Association of Secondary Headteachers in Essex (ASHE) action is explained here and in our previous blog last weekend.

ashe

http://ashe-essex.org/fund-the-8/

Since its launch the campaign has received coverage throughout the county, most recently in the East Anglian Daily Times this weekend:

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/lack_of_schools_funding_is_putting_teachers_jobs_at_risk_1_4905844

Meanwhile the national press has also been covering the worsening budget situation throughout the country.

In the education press, for example the TES:

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/ministers-need-face-facts-these-cuts-will-have-dire-consequences

And the main broadsheets:

Education journalist Fiona Miller’s comment piece in The Guardian included mention of the Essex campaign:

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/feb/14/way-school-funded-isnt-fair-revolt-fiona-millar?CMP=share_btn_tw

The Times covered the issue yesterday under the title “Schools switch off the music (and heating) as big cuts loom” and included this summary:

times-piece

Today’s Sunday Times reports on the gathering disquiet of parents groups throughout the country which includes a twitter campaign using the hashtag #schoolsjustwannahavefunds.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/parents-let-rip-over-school-cuts-8jhxnhkl2?shareToken=523468d8fb9646828d5bc847fd41ac4f

Head teachers throughout the country also continue to spell out the ramifications of declining budgets on their students. This blog by Cumbrian headteacher Rebecca Stacey, written as an open letter to her MP, is a recommended example:

https://digitalclassroomsblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/an-open-letter-to-my-mp/

What all heads are consistent in pointing out is that action is unlikely to be taken to address their concerns without parental and community support. To that end, the vast majority of secondary headteachers in Essex sent out a letter to parents to explain their campaign and the reasons behind it.

For the benefit of those in the wider community who may wish to support their local school, and for parents of primary aged children, we reproduce an example below:

 

Dear Parent/Carer

Fund the 8%

All Essex secondary headteachers wish to make you aware of the funding situation Essex schools are facing.

In recent weeks, the TV, radio, newspapers and internet have given a lot of coverage to the proposed National Funding Formula (NFF) consultation and the implications of underfunding for schools.  School leaders across Essex are saddened by the fact that for many schools the financial situation does not look like it is improving either in the short or longer terms.  Key headlines are as follows:

  • The NFF will begin in April 2018 – the new proposals allocate funding with greater fairness and transparency as all schools across England will be funded via the same methodology.
  • These new arrangements are, however, being severely undermined by:

o    The ongoing introduction of unfunded costs being placed upon schools, such as increasing employer National Insurance and pension contributions as well as Educational Service Grant costs.  These costs lie outside the NFF.

o    Schools not receiving adequate “core funding” to meet basic staffing and equipment costs.

o    The government’s decision to make £3 billion of “efficiency savings” from school budgets.

 Using data from the DFE’s own database, under the current NFF proposals the following will occur:

  • In 2018 Essex secondary schools (as a whole) will still be in the bottom third of the funding levels for 150 Local Authorities in England. The lowest third gain, on average, a further £79 per pupil rising to £144 in April 2020.
  • After the introduction of NFF (2018), unfunded cost burdens will, however, mean that such gains are offset to the point where the clear majority of schools in Essex will be no better off (or even worse off) than the current dire financial situation. 

Headteachers in all Essex schools (including our primary colleagues with whom we are working closely) are dismayed that our financial situation looks so bleak. Consequently, our fears about reduced staffing levels, increased class sizes and reductions in curricular and pastoral provision are likely to become a reality in either the short term, medium term or both.

School leaders are united in their belief that the current situation is both unfair and unsustainable.  We are asking government, in the strongest possible terms, to “fund the 8% cuts to school budgets”.

The 8% figure derives from independent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which you can see here https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8027

Our first step has been to raise important questions with ministers from the DFE and our own local MPs.  We are happy to share these questions with you and would urge you to raise similar concerns with your local representatives.

We will continue to do everything in our power to maintain standards of care and provision but also feel that it is important to let you know just how bad matters are at present.  Your support as we continue with our campaign will be vital.

 

If you can support this campaign, please share your concerns with your local MP and if you live in Essex, ask them to support the “Fund the 8%” campaign. As the national press are now highlighting, this is a national issue, so those outside the county are encouraged to contact their MPs in support of their local schools too.

MP email addresses are listed here:

https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Brentwood and Ongar residents can contact their MP at:

picklese@parliament.uk

or on Twitter at @ericpickles using hashtag #schoolsjustwannahavefunds

 

Educating Brentwood

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