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Sussex Schools “Worth Less” under new funding

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Head teachers ask the community to write to their MP to highlight the unfair bias in funding which will affect our children’s education

Head teachers across Sussex have written to parents highlighting the ongoing disparity in funding across schools which they say will affect the ability of Sussex schools to provide adequate teaching and services. Here is an edited summary of their letter.

In September 2017 the government announced its new National Funding Formula. Consequently, the Department for Education reduced the amount that it had originally planned to take from school budgets by £1.3 billion (2015-2020) and confirmed new formula arrangements for how schools would be funded from April 2018.

Headteachers in West Sussex have looked in detail at the Department for Education’s own funding information and statistics and have concluded that the new arrangements fall well short of what was promised.

Despite promises to the contrary, your child’s education is still worth far less than that of many other counties. It is acknowledged that factors, such as deprivation, mean that schools should be funded differently. But the disparities that will still be in place for the next financial year 2018-19 (and beyond) are impossible to regard as being satisfactory in any way.

Using the Department for Education’s own statistics it transpires that 100,000 pupils in West Sussex will receive £30 million less per annum than the average; £145 million less than the same number of pupils in Greenwich and £263 million less than those in the London borough of Hackney.

Here are sample funding comparisons

To give an idea of how badly children in West Sussex schools are being funded, when compared to other areas, an additional £1 million of funding can purchase the following:

  • 34 teachers
  • 63 teaching assistants
  • 2,000 computers
  • 40,000 text books

Additional funding could also be spent on a range of other crucial resources and support staff in areas such as Special Educational Needs and Disability, counselling services and extra tuition as needed for students across the ability range.

At times, our resources and that of the Local Authority are so stretched that we worry about carrying out the most basic duty – that of maintaining the best possible welfare provision – to the levels to that all schools should be able to. Some  schools  are  even  resorting  to  asking  for  parental  contributions  to  supplement  their beleaguered budgets. This is entirely unacceptable.

Headteachers in thousands of other low funded areas of England, are all stating the same facts. We are delighted that a cross party group of councillors from West Sussex are also continuing to support our campaign so clearly, stating publicly that the proposed new formula is “not fit for purpose”.

In November last year, representative Headteachers from 5000 schools across 25 counties petitioned the Chancellor directly. The response was both superficial and inadequate.

We need our local MPs to raise their voices publicly and unequivocally once again to confirm that the new funding formula proposed by the government is simply not fit for purpose. We have already received an initial statement from them (excluding Nick Gibb MP as he is the school’s minister). The fact that we have a new Secretary of State merely adds to the sense of urgency.

Our collective work – and in particular, the sustained intervention of local MPs – was important in ensuring that some improvements were made to original proposals for the new formula. We now need to have this work finished fairly and adequately.

Every pupil sits the same examinations and all pupils have the right to adequate levels of funding and support so that their dreams and aspirations can be fulfilled. We now need every adult who cares about children’s education in Sussex, parent or not, to step up alongside their local school and write to their MP to demand change.