Social media campaign on 3rd June to make the case for school funding

FAIR FUNDS FOR ALL SCHOOLS SOCIAL MEDIA STUNT TO START SATURDAY 3RD JUNE

#schoolsjustwannahavefunds because …..

We’d like to do a stunt on social media the week after the Fair Funds for All Schools national day of action on 26 May, to give the campaign a strong online presence in the run up to the election.

We think we have come up with a simple idea which will:

  • Be easy to do and flexible enough for everyone to join in, whether they have school children or not
  • Allow us to highlight a wide range of issues – from the negative impact that cuts are already having, to the positive things that we love and want to protect about our schools
  • Have the ability to go viral

What we want people to do:

We want people to go onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and post the comment “#schoolsjustwannahavefunds because…” with an image of their child/ children or themselves holding a piece of paper with a handwritten message that completes the sentence.

For example you could post the comment ‘#schoolsjustwannahavefunds because….’ with a photo your child holding a piece of A4 paper and the message ‘my school has lost 3 TAs in the last year’

Example Messages:

To help below are some examples of the types of messages that people may want to have in the picture. We’d encourage people to go with a message which is personal to them, or specific to their school, but if they are feeling nervous or lazy, they can copy one of our sample messages.

#schoolsjustwannahavefunds because…..

  • My school is one of the most underfunded in the country
    – my school has lost X teachers in the last year
  • I want to be schooled in mainstream education
  • I need a TA to help me learn and I don’t want to leave my school.
  • I deserve a good education
  • I want to learn music and art
  • I don’t want my teachers to be made redundant
  • Children are our future
  • Education is an investment in the future of the country

Challenging your parliamentary candidates to fund our children’s education properly

Unless we make it clear to the political parties standing for election that we care strongly about the education of our children, our schools will be driven further into a financial crisis that is already seeing falls in the number of teachers, increases in class sizes, inadequate teaching equipment, withdrawal of extra-curricular activities, and in some cases schools asking parents to make direct financial contributions to the education of their children in state schools.

Here’s how you can hold the next government to account to reverse the crisis by funding schools properly.

The Conservative government that has just left office was elected on a manifesto commitment to protect the funding per child of our education system:

“The amount of money following your child into school will be protected. As the number of pupils increases, so will the amount of money in our schools. On current pupil number forecasts, there will be a real-terms increase in the schools budget in the next Parliament.”

That commitment has not been met. The education budget has risen in real terms, but not enough to match the larger increase in the number of pupils in school.

The National Audit Office report of December 2016 states that:

“The Department’s overall schools budget is protected in real terms but does not provide for funding per pupil to increase in line with inflation. Funding per pupil will, on average, rise only from £5,447 in 2015-16 to £5,519 in 2019-20, a real-terms reduction once inflation is taken into account”.

This was confirmed by Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education who told the Public Accounts Committee in January 2017 that “the Government has protected the funding of schools overall in real terms, but not per pupil”.

You can use the following letter to write to or e-mail your parliamentary candidates to make clear that you understand this issue and are prepared to vote based on it. The more of us who do so, the more likely we are to have the schools that educate our children properly paid for.

(Note: this material is adapted from the wonderful Fair Funding for all Schools campaign – find out how to take part here: http://www.fairfundingforallschools.org/)

{insert your name}

{insert your address}

{insert your postcode}

 

{insert candidate name}

{insert candidate address}

{insert date} 2017

Dear {insert candidate name}

Fair Funding for All Schools

I am writing as a resident of the constituency in which you are standing for election to express my concerns about the funding situation facing schools in my local area, including {insert school name} which my {child/children} {attends/attend}.

The previous Conservative government was elected on the following manifesto commitment:

“The amount of money following your child into school will be protected. As the number of pupils increases, so will the amount of money in our schools. On current pupil number forecasts, there will be a real-terms increase in the schools budget in the next Parliament.”

However, this is not the policy that was followed. The National Audit Office report of December 2016 states that:

“The Department’s overall schools budget is protected in real terms but does not provide for funding per pupil to increase in line with inflation. Funding per pupil will, on average, rise only from £5,447 in 2015-16 to £5,519 in 2019-20, a real-terms reduction once inflation is taken into account”.

In other words: whilst the total cash sum provided to schools is rising in line with inflation, because the number of pupils attending school is going up, the cash paid to schools per pupil after inflation is falling, in direct contradiction to government policy.

This was confirmed by Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education who told the Public Accounts Committee in January 2017 that “the Government has protected the funding of schools overall in real terms, but not per pupil”.

At the same time, increasing staff costs, the introduction of the National Living Wage, higher contributions to National Insurance and the teacher pension scheme, non-pay inflation, the Apprenticeship Levy and the loss of subsidy through the Education Services Grant all create significant additional costs for schools, meaning that funding per pupil is falling even further.

According to the National Audit Office, the combination of flat funding and increasing costs equates to an 8 per cent real terms reduction in school spending power – the biggest cuts since the 1990s.

Local parents, teachers and school leaders are already seeing the impact of this funding squeeze through cuts to teaching and support staff, increasing class sizes, the loss of some pastoral care and support services, cutbacks in extra-curricular and sports activities, an inability to invest in modern computing equipment to support teaching technology skills, and, in some cases, we have schools resorting to asking parents for termly cash payments to supplement core budgets because of the financial problems they face.

The government then announced an intention to introduce a new National Funding Formula in 2018 that would aim to address gaps in school funding between different geographical areas by using a new method to distribute cash.

I support the principle of more transparent and equal pupil funding across all parts of the country. But the government proposed to achieve this by redistributing money between schools from a total pot that is shrinking in real terms. And therefore, according to the government’s own figures, 49 per cent of schools in England would lose even more funding including over 2 million children in the worst affected schools.

In the constituency of {insert constituency name} where I live, the National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Association of Head Teachers, UNISON, GMB and UNITE have calculated that cuts will lead to {a 10% loss of funding in year 2019/20 when compared to 2015/16, or more than £500 less for each child – replace with figures for your constituency, which can be found here: http://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/}.

No school in any part of the country can afford to bear these losses; and there appear to be very few gainers anywhere. Analysis by teaching unions and the Times Education Supplement suggest that nearly all schools in the country will lose out when all of these factors are taken into account.

As the National Governors Association put it “there simply is no longer enough money in the total pot to sustain adequately all schools in England”.

I am aware that public funding for many other services is also under pressure – the NHS, policing and defence, for example. But funding for schools has a unique benefit that funding for any other public service does not: it lowers the cost of future public services.

The better we educate our children, the more likely they are to earn a living and pay taxes, rather than to rely on benefits and public services; the more likely they are to be fit, healthy and to eat well, rather than to become unhealthy and depend heavily on the NHS; and the less likely they are to commit crimes and to become a burden on the justice system.

Finally, and perhaps most worryingly, these cuts are taking place at arguably the most important time to invest in education for more than a century.

The decision for the UK to leave the European Union will require our future economy to be driven by a more productive, more creative, more highly-skilled workforce to compensate for the likely increase in tariffs and barriers to trade and investment in one of our largest export markets. The Government has recognised this challenge in part in its recent announcement in the Industrial Strategy Greenpaper of new “Institutes of Technology” and other measures to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills in the UK workforce.

But how effective will those Institutes be if the Primary and Secondary Schools that prepare our children to attend them cannot afford to buy computers to teach the digital skills that will be vital to future productivity? And how can we enable those Schools to better equip our children with the creative, social, artistic, business and entrepreneurial skills that are equally important?

More directly, the increase in inflation caused by the devaluation of Sterling following the vote to leave the European Union will further stretch frozen school budgets which are already shrinking in real terms.

Worse, many economists believe that the global economy is undergoing a decades-long “Information Revolution”, driven by advances in digital technology, that will cause a transformation of our society and economy at least as significant as the Industrial Revolution. Recent work by the Universities of Oxford and New York[1], by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology[2], and by the management consultancy McKinsey[3], amongst others, has predicted that up to half of the activities that make up the jobs that people are currently employed to do could be taken over by computing technology within the next three decades. For example, many thousands of professional drivers in the UK will lose their jobs to autonomous vehicles.

In this context, the task of our schools is to prepare our children to possess skills and to seek jobs in 10 to 20 years’ time that we cannot currently imagine. The magnitude of that challenge surely demands that we prioritise significant increases to their funding and resources.

Our Schools are simply not being given the resources to address either their current financial challenges, nor this once-in-a-Century transformation of our society and economy that we – or more accurately our children – face.

As such, I ask you as a candidate seeking my vote to make clear in your personal campaigning and your party’s manifesto that:

  • Per pupil funding will not only be protected, but will be significantly increased in real terms by your party if is forms the next government.
  • No school in any part of the country will lose any funding as a result of your party’s policies.

Yours sincerely

{insert name}

[1] “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?”, University of Oxford:

http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

[2] “Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy”, New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2014-06-04/new-world-order

[3] “Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works”, McKinsey:

http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/digital-disruption/harnessing-automation-for-a-future-that-works

A Response to the National Funding Formula Consultation

The Department of Education is asking for feedback by March 22nd on its proposals for a new “National Funding Formula” (NFF) for schools.

This is the best formal means to lobby Government on the issue of school funding at present.

The more people who submit responses to the consultation, the more the Department will realise the strength of opinion against the cuts they are making to school funding.

Here is the link to submit a response; to make it easier you can download this Word document containing some sample answers you can use; I’ve also reproduced my response to the Consultation below.

I urge you please to spend half an hour of your time responding to this consultation: under its proposals, 98% of schools will lose funding in real terms; including 34 out of 35 in the Birmingham Hall Green Constituency, where I live, alone.

The effects are likely to include:

  • Bigger classes
  • Fewer teachers and teaching assistants
  • A less varied curriculum
  • Less out-of-school activities

More details can be found on the “School Cuts” website  which demonstrates the impact of these cuts across the country.

Questions 1, 2, 4, 10, 11, 13 and 14 of the Consultation are the ones that I feel are the most important to answer, but obviously make your own choice.

A Response to the National Funding Formula Stage 2 Consultation

 Q1: In designing our national funding formula, we have taken careful steps to balance the principles of fairness and stability. Do you think we have struck the right balance?

Answer: No

Evidence:

 I appreciate the lengths to which you have gone in an attempt to reach a formula for the fair distribution of funds between pupils, schools and areas with different needs.

However, it is simply not possible to achieve a balance between a “fair distribution” and “stability” when the whole process is undermined by the real-terms cuts in funding faced by the vast majority of schools.

A 3% limit on reductions in funds per pupil is roughly a 5% cut in real terms once inflation is taken into account. Even the schools that benefit under the proposed formula will in reality not benefit very much. A 5% increase in funds becomes a 2.5% increase after inflation.

The National Audit Office report of December 2016 shows that “funding per pupil will, on average, rise only from £5,447 in 2015-16 to £5,519 in 2019-20, a real-terms reduction once inflation is taken into account”.

The National Audit Office concludes that the government’s attempts to deliver educational excellence everywhere must be set “against a budget that provides little more than flat cash funding per pupil over the five years to 2019-20. This means that mainstream schools need to find significant savings, amounting to £3.0 billion by 2019-20, to counteract cost pressures” which “equates to an 8.0% real-terms reduction in per-pupil funding between 2014-15 and 2019-20”.

These are the largest real terms reductions in school funding since the early 1990s.

When factors such as the Apprenticeship Levy and the rising costs of pension and National Insurance liabilities are taken into account, it becomes clear that the situation is even worse (Schools are required to increase pension payments from 14% to 19% of salary). Your department’s own figures can be used to demonstrate that as a consequence 98% of schools face a reduction in funding in real terms. According to the National Audit Office schools will face a real terms drop of £3 billion by 2020.

The National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Association of Head Teachers, UNISON, GMB and UNITE have calculated that cuts in the constituency of Birmingham Hall Green will lead to a horrendous 10% loss of funding in year 2019/20 when compared to 2015/16, or more than £500 less for each child.

This squeeze on funding is impacting on the education of our pupils. Evidence from my local area as well as from school leaders, teaching unions, the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office shows that schools are already:

  • Reducing teaching and support staff
  • Increasing class sizes
  • Cutting pastoral care and support services
  • Narrowing the curriculum
  • Reducing extra-curricular activities
  • Struggling to buy new text books or update IT equipment
  • Asking parents for cash payments to supplement core school budgets and clubs

In this financial context, taking further money away from hard-pressed schools that cannot afford it to give to others is neither fair nor sustainable.

The £500m announced in the 2017 Spring Budget will not materially address these issues. Funding to open 140 new schools is trivial in comparison to the needs of the existing 24,000 schools which cannot afford to run themselves and provide their pupils with a decent quality of education; and the chance for some schools to update their physical facilities, whilst welcome in itself, does not address that problem either.

The introduction to the National Funding Formula Stage 2 Executive Summary states that:

“This Government is committed to creating a country that works for everyone. No matter where they live, whatever their background, ability or need, children should have access to an excellent education that unlocks talent and creates opportunity. We want all children to reach their full potential and to succeed in adult life. … The current funding system does not support this aspiration.”

The proposed National Funding Formula will not meet this aspiration either; it simply does not provide enough funding for our schools.

As Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Commons Select Committee for Education, said in his letter of 12 December 2016 to Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for School Standards:

“Many schools find themselves unable to deliver essential functions and the way in which funding is distributed between schools is a second-order question. We are both all too well aware of the wider financial pressures under which schools in our own constituencies are seeking to operate.”

The proposed National Funding Formula is relatively fair in its weighting between the issues that affect the cost of education; but in its failure to address the absolute shortfall in the level of funding available, it could very well be described as “re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic”.

The National Governors Association state that “there simply is no longer enough money in the total pot to sustain adequately all schools in England”.

Without further investment to ensure that, at the very least, per pupil funding is protected in real terms, the National Funding Formula will simply exacerbate and intensify the funding crisis facing all our schools.

Q2: Do you support our proposal to set the primary to secondary ratio in line with the current national average?

 We have decided that the secondary phase should be funded, overall, at a higher level than primary, after consulting on this in stage one. We are now consulting on how great the difference should be between the phases.

 The current national average is 1:1.29, which means that secondary pupils are funded 29% higher overall than primary pupils.

Answer: No – the ratio should be closer (i.e. primary and secondary phases should be funded at more similar levels)

Evidence:

Your proposal is based on evidence of the past performance of Primary and Secondary Schools, and their influence on the ultimate educational achievement of children. That evidence does not take into account the fundamental changes needed in our education system to support the economy of the future.

Research from the Universities of Oxford and New York, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Management Consultancy McKinsey, amongst others, predicts that increasingly rapid, developments in digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will lead to the increasing automation of a significant proportion of jobs over the next few decades. McKinsey suggest that up to half of the activities that people are currently employed to perform will be automated within the next 30 years. Consequently, the jobs that current Primary School pupils will seek in 20 years’ time will require vastly different skills than the jobs of today; we can barely conceive today what those skills might be.

Whilst our Secondary Schools provide in-depth education in well-defined subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Geography and Design, it is our Primary Schools that first develop our children’s overall attitude to learning. We cannot be sure that in 20 years’ time subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Geography and Design will be valued in the same way in the employment marketplace.

What we can be sure of is that children who are inspired to learn and adapt constantly throughout their lives will ultimately be successful in acquiring and using whatever are the economically important skills throughout their careers. It is our Primary School environments that will create that inspiration or not, and we should focus our resources on enabling them to do so.

References:

“The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?”, University of Oxford: http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

“Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy”, New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2014-06-04/new-world-order

“Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works”, McKinsey: http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/digital-disruption/harnessing-automation-for-a-future-that-works

Q3: Do you support our proposal to maximise pupil-led funding?

 We are proposing to maximise the amount of funding allocated to factors that relate directly to pupils and their characteristics, compared to the factors that relate to schools’ characteristics. We propose to do this by reducing the lump sum compared to the current national average (see question 7 on the lump sum value).

 Answer: Yes.

Evidence:

All of our children are different; anything that supports our schools by providing the resources they need to recognise and support the individual needs of children is to be welcomed, from Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, to academically bright students who need to be challenged, to children whose talents lie in creativity, entrepreneurial flair, sports, the arts, manual proficiency or any other field.

 

This is why, it is particularly important, that overall funding per pupil is increased beyond inflation.

The current policy of funding is leading to increasing class sizes and a reduction in the number of teaching assistants available to work with individual children and small groups in class (in the case of my son’s Primary School, the number of teaching assistants is being almost halved, from 19 FTE to 10 FTE).

It is also leading to cut-backs in extra-curricular activities such as sports, cookery, crafts, art and languages. Finally, regardless of the statements in the proposed new policy that funding to support SEND pupils will be protected, in reality this support is under threat as the schools which provide it most extensively have always done so by subsidising its proper provision from their wider funding allocations. As their funding is cut either directly or be inflation, the underlying shortfalls in SEND funding are being exposed.

One of the most effective ways a teacher can differentiate learning for ALL children is with good teaching support staff. This can range from a child who has individual support or a teaching assistant who could support anyone in a class of 30. This will not be possible because schools won’t, already can’t, afford enough support staff. This is a significant backward step and it will have an effect on standards.

Q4: Within the total pupil-led funding, do you support our proposal to increase the proportion allocated to the additional needs factors?

 Of the total schools block funding, 76% is currently allocated to basic per-pupil funding (AWPU) and 13% is allocated to the additional needs factors (deprivation, low prior attainment and English as an additional language).

 The formula will recognise educational disadvantage in its widest sense, including those who are not eligible for the pupil premium but whose families may be only just about managing. It increases the total spent on additional needs factors compared to the funding explicitly directed through these factors in the current system.

We are therefore proposing to increase the proportion of the total schools block funding allocated to additional needs factors to 18%, with 73% allocated to basic per-pupil funding.

 Answer: Yes

Evidence:

As stated in my answer to the previous question, anything that supports our schools by providing the resources they need to recognise and support the individual needs of children is to be welcomed, from Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, to academically bright students who need to be challenged, to children who’s talents lie in creativity, entrepreneurial flair, sports, manual proficiency or any other field.

However, your introduction to this question perfectly highlights the fundamental problem with the proposal:

“We ask respondents to bear in mind with each question on this page that we are redistributing funding. Any money that we put into one factor will have to come from another factor. We have indicated what we think are the right proportions for each factor.”

There are no “factors” of education that we can afford to cut – on the contrary, every area of education needs increased funding. The effort spent redistributing a few percentage points of funds between “factors” would be far better spent finding ways to increase funding.

Q5: Do you agree with the proposed weightings for each of the additional needs factors?

 Answer: The Proportion is About Right

Evidence:

 As stated in my answer to the previous question, anything that supports our schools by providing the resources they need to recognise and support the individual needs of children is to be welcomed, from Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, to academically bright students who need to be challenged, to children who’s talents lie in creativity, entrepreneurial flair, sports, manual proficiency or any other field.

However, your introduction to this question perfectly highlights the fundamental problem with the proposal:

“We ask respondents to bear in mind with each question on this page that we are redistributing funding. Any money that we put into one factor will have to come from another factor. We have indicated what we think are the right proportions for each factor.”

There are no “factors” of education that we can afford to cut – on the contrary, every area of education needs increased funding. The effort spent redistributing a few percentage points of funds between “factors” would be far better spent finding ways to increase funding.

 

Q7: Do you agree with the proposed lump sum amount of £110,000 for all schools?

 This factor is intended to contribute to the costs that do not vary with pupil numbers, and to give schools (especially small schools) certainty that they will receive a certain amount each year in addition to their pupil-led funding.

 Answer: This is about the right amount

Evidence:

I agree that the majority of funding should be allocated to pupils, so that it can pay for the right number of teachers, teaching assistants, classrooms and teaching resources.

 

Q9: Do you agree that lagged pupil growth data would provide an effective basis for the growth factor in the longer term?

 The growth factor will be based on local authorities’ historic spend in 2018-19. For the longer term we intend to develop a more sophisticated measure and in the consultation we suggest the option of using lagged pupil growth data. We will consult on our proposals at a later stage, but would welcome any initial comments on this suggestion now.

Answer:

As with other aspects of the consultation, this question misses the point. Basic future growth in funds on lagged pupil growth will come nowhere near addressing the critical shortage of funding for schools. As argued in my other answers in this response to your consultation, in my view it is a waste of time to concentrate on this issue. The energy of the Department of Education should be spent on significantly increasing funding for schools.

The cost of ensuring no school loses out through the National Funding Formula is £335m a year. That is less than 1 per cent of the schools budget for England. £384m was made available for Academy expansion that the DFE has subsequently returned to the Treasury.

Q10: Do you agree with the principle of a funding floor?

 To ensure stability we propose to put in place a floor that would protect schools from large overall reductions as a result of this formula. This would be in addition to the minimum funding guarantee (see question 13).

Answer: Yes

Evidence:

Of course there should be a funding floor. No formula will perfectly reflect the real needs of actual schools, and so some schools will always be allocated proportionally less funds than they need. This shortfall should of course be limited by the presence of a funding floor.

Q11: Do you support our proposal to set the funding floor at minus 3%?

 This will mean that no school will lose more than 3% of their current per-pupil funding as a result of this formula.

 Answer: No – the floor should be higher (i.e. restrict losses to less than 3% per pupil)

Evidence:

 The funding floor should be set at a significantly higher level than the current funding schools receive, and the future funding they will receive under your proposed formula.

Schools across England are facing cost pressures that require savings of £3bn by 2020 – an 8 per cent real terms reduction in funding as identified by the National Audit Office.

In this context, no school can afford to lose further funding.

The impact of the National Funding Formula (NFF) means that 49 per cent of schools in the country will lose more money, on top of the massive savings they are already being forced to make.

The majority of schools in the West Midlands and the North West will lose funding as a result of the NFF. Schools in Luton, Coventry, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and Southend are among the 20 biggest losers in the country.

In London, 70 per cent of schools are due to lose out. Schools in London are having to find £360m in savings in the first year of the new funding arrangements as a result of the combination of real terms per pupil funding reductions and the NFF – that equates to the salaries of almost 13k qualified teachers or over 17k teaching assistants.

No area of the country can afford to lose these kinds of resources.

Funding for schools is in crisis. The National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Association of Head Teachers, UNISON, GMB and UNITE have produced the following table showing that cuts in my constituency of Birmingham Hall Green will lead to a horrendous 10% loss of funding in year 2019/20 when compared to 2015/16, or more than £500 less for each child.

NUT also point out that in the 2015 election, the Conservatives were elected on a promise to maintain per pupil funding in cash terms. This promise has been broken by the Government in the funding allocated to 34 out of 35 schools in the Birmingham Hall Green constituency.

My child’s school, Kings Heath Primary School in Birmingham, prides itself on the provision of mainstream education for children with complex needs. It is hugely beneficial to all of the children in school. This is an incredibly powerful way to bring up our children to naturally accept diversity. But the approach depends on the availability of sufficient resources; on the ability to adapt the physical environment to be sufficiently accessibility; and especially on the availability of the right number of teaching assistants to work with children on 1:1 basis.

Kings Heath Primary School estimate that they receive £100k less funds every year for Special Educational Needs than is needed to provide this support. The broader cuts that are now being made to their funds means that this provision is under acute threat. This is in addition to £150k-£200k of further staff cuts, including reducing the number of teaching assistants from 19 FTE to 10 FTE.

Additional cost-saving measures that the school is taking include:

  • Replacing modern foreign language teaching with non-specialist and volunteer teachers.
  • Terminating the school’s subscription to a local Sports Partnership providing access to sport and Physical Education facilities.
  • Cancelling education visits.
  • Reducing swimming lessons.
  • Not being able to replace ICT equipment that is already 9 years old and badly out-of-date.
  • Not being able to replace playground equipment which is already showing signs of wear.
  • Expanding class sizes to 32 and further reducing teaching ratios.

This WILL effect standards in English and Maths. It will also effect the essential enrichment of developing children’s health, well – being, physical and cultural education and the skills they need to be effective members of society. All the things that the government has told state schools that they should be doing.

In all of these cases, the children who need the most help will be the children who lose out the most.

This evidence demonstrates the empty promise of your proposal for “pupil-led funding”; and the empty aspiration expressed in your Executive Summary: “No matter where they live, whatever their background, ability or need, children should have access to an excellent education that unlocks talent and creates opportunity. We want all children to reach their full potential and to succeed in adult life.”

The cost of ensuring no school loses out through the National Funding Formula is £335m a year. That is less than 1 per cent of the schools budget for England. £384m was made available for Academy expansion that the DFE has subsequently returned to the Treasury. The £500m announced in the 2017 Spring Budget will not materially address these issues. Funding to open 140 new schools is trivial in comparison to the needs of the existing 24,000 schools which cannot afford to run themselves and provide their pupils with a decent quality of education; and the chance for some schools to update their physical facilities, whilst welcome in itself, does not address that problem either.

It is therefore an affordable and reasonable ask that the government releases the funding required to ensure no school loses out.

Q12: Do you agree that for new or growing schools (i.e. schools that are still filling up and do not have pupils in all year groups yet) the funding floor should be applied to the per-pupil funding they would have received if they were at full capacity?

 Answer: No

Evidence:

It is not possible to answer this question properly. I agree that rapidly growing schools should be provided with funding that assumes a higher number of pupils than attend the school at the time funding is decided. But the extent of additional funding should be based on the rate of growth of the school. This should be part of the planning and development of these schools by central government.

Q13: Do you support our proposal to continue the minimum funding guarantee at minus 1.5%?

 The minimum funding guarantee protects schools against reductions of more than a certain percentage per pupil each year. We are proposing to continue the minimum funding guarantee at minus 1.5% per pupil per year.

Answer: No – the minimum funding guarantee should be higher (i.e. restrict losses to less than 1.5% per pupil in any year)

Evidence:

No school should lose any funding as a direct result of the implementation of the National Funding Formula. After its introduction, the process of refreshing the data behind the funding formula each year is likely to cause further turbulence for schools. It is therefore essential that sufficient investment is introduced into the funding system each year to protect against disruption.

Funding for schools is in crisis, and all schools need increased funding. No reductions in funding should be tolerated.

The National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Association of Head Teachers, UNISON, GMB and UNITE have produced the following table showing that cuts in my constituency of Birmingham Hall Green will lead to a horrendous 10% loss of funding in year 2019/20 when compared to 2015/16, or more than £500 less for each child.

NUT also point out that in the 2015 election, the Conservatives were elected on a promise to maintain per pupil funding in cash terms. This promise has been broken by the Government in the funding allocated to 34 out of 35 schools in the Birmingham Hall Green constituency.

My child’s Primary school, Kings Heath Primary School in Birmingham, prides itself on the provision of mainstream education for children with complex needs. This is an incredibly powerful way to bring up our children to naturally accept diversity. But the approach depends on the availability of sufficient resources; on the ability to adapt the physical environment to be sufficiently accessibility; and especially on the availability of the right number of teaching assistants to work with children on 1:1 basis.

Kings Heath Primary School estimate that they receive £100k less funds every year for Special Educational Needs than is needed to provide this support. The broader cuts that are now being made to their funds means that this provision is under acute threat. This is in addition to £150k-£200k of further staff cuts, including reducing the number of teaching assistants from 19 FTE to 10 FTE.

Additional cost-saving measures that the school is taking include:

  • Replacing modern foreign language teaching with non-specialist and volunteer teachers.
  • Terminating the school’s subscription to a local Sports Partnership providing access to sport and Physical Education facilities.
  • Cancelling education visits.
  • Reducing swimming lessons.
  • Not being able to replace ICT equipment that is already 9 years old and badly out-of-date.
  • Not being able to replace playground equipment which is already showing signs of wear.
  • Expanding class sizes to 32 and further reducing teaching ratios.

This WILL effect standards in English and Maths. It will also effect the essential enrichment of developing children’s health, well – being, physical and cultural education and the skills they need to be effective members of society. All the things that the government has told state schools that they should be doing.

In all of these cases, the children who need the most help will be the children who lose out the most.

This evidence demonstrates the empty promise of your proposal for “pupil-led funding”; and the empty aspiration expressed in your Executive Summary: “No matter where they live, whatever their background, ability or need, children should have access to an excellent education that unlocks talent and creates opportunity. We want all children to reach their full potential and to succeed in adult life.”

Q14: Are there further considerations we should be taking into account about the proposed schools national funding formula?

The Department of Education is focused on the wrong question.

Yes, of course funding for schools should be allocated in a way that is fair and that reflects the different needs of different schools.

But the fundamental problem facing the United Kingdom’s Schools is a critical lack of funding. The Department should be fighting with all its energy for dramatic improvements in funding.

The need to improve school funding is more important now than ever. Many economists and observers of the technology industry believer that we are part-way through a decades-long “Information Revolution” that will transform our society and economy just as much as – if not more than – the Industrial Revolution.

Experts disagree at present whether the dominant impact of the technologies of the Information Revolution will be to remove existing jobs through automation, or to create even more new jobs that exploit the capabilities of those new technologies (which was ultimately the effect of the Industrial Revolution).

What is certain, though, is that the jobs of the future will require vastly different skills than the jobs of today; and that we can barely conceive what those skills might be. Again, this trend is already visible today: for example, whilst the number of manufacturing jobs in the USA is currently rising, prospective employees need increasingly sophisticated technical skills in order to manage the robotic machinery that now performs most of the work.

The economic effects can already be seen too. Since the arrival of the personal computer in the 1980s first ushered in the age of mass use of digital technology, whilst US GDP has nearly doubled, median household income hasn’t risen at all. Unemployment amongst young people in many European countries is between 20% and 50%. In the UK, there has been no increase in average earnings so far this decade, and young people in particular have become worse off. The situation is unlikely to improve for many years.

Research from the Universities of Oxford and New York, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Management Consultancy McKinsey, amongst others, predicts that increasingly rapid, developments in digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will lead to the increasing automation of a significant proportion of jobs over the next few decades. McKinsey suggest that up to half of the activities that people are currently employed to perform will be automated within the next 30 years. Consequently, the jobs that current Primary School pupils will seek in 20 years’ time will require vastly different skills than the jobs of today; and we can barely conceive today what those skills might be.

 

Whilst our Secondary Schools provide in-depth education in well-defined subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Geography and Design, it is our Primary Schools that first develop our children’s overall attitude to learning. We cannot be sure that in 20 years’ time subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Geography and Design will be valued in the employment marketplace.

What we can be sure of is that children who are inspired to learn and adapt constantly throughout their lives will ultimately be successful in acquiring and using whatever are the economically important skills throughout their careers. It is our Primary School environments that will create that inspiration or not, and we should focus our resources on enabling them to do so.

References:

“It’s not the Fourth Industrial Revolution!”, Calum Chase: https://calumchace.wordpress.com/2016/11/13/its-not-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/

“Why Donald Trump is Wrong about Manufacturing Jobs and China”, The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/why-donald-trump-is-wrong-about-manufacturing-jobs-and-china

“Why Trump’s factory job promises won’t pan out—in one chart”, The Brookings Institute: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2016/11/21/why-trumps-factory-job-promises-wont-pan-out-in-one-chart/

 “A three step manifesto for a smarter, fairer economy”, The Urban Technologist: https://theurbantechnologist.com/2016/11/27/a-three-step-manifesto-for-a-smarter-fairer-economy/

“Majority World Report 2016”, Saul Klein, Web Summit Lisbon: http://www.slideshare.net/cape/majority-world-report-2016-web-summit-lisbon?smtNoRedir=1

“Autumn Statement: Workers’ pay growth prospects dreadful, says IFS”, BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38090977

“The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?”, University of Oxford: http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

“Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy”, New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2014-06-04/new-world-order

“Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works”, McKinsey: http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/digital-disruption/harnessing-automation-for-a-future-that-works

 

 

 

 I would also like to refer you to the following evidence against the proposed funding formula.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies’ – report February 2017

“It (proposed funding cuts through the new funding formula) also comes at a time when schools need to recruit more teachers to accommodate a growing pupil population (expected to grow by around 7 per cent between 2015–16 and 2019–33).

F40 group – February 2017

The F40 group who have argued for fairer funding for twenty years argue the following points about the proposed funding formula:

  • Plans to limit budget cuts for losers to 3% which will “lock in” historical advantages for schools “overfunded” for decades
  • As the fair funding formula does not increase the overall schools budget, there could be severe problems for those who have to reduce budgets, especially in lower funded areas
  • The new formula gives too much weight to additional needs as opposed to per pupil funding, and risks replacing one unfairness with another
  • The evidence to support the detail of the proposals is weak and not specific enough

Child Poverty Action Group – March 2017

“If the country – and our education system – is to work for everyone, not just for the privileged few, ministers must reconsider the school funding formula,”

“Poverty at home is the strongest statistical predictor of how well a child will do at school, [but] schools and teachers can help to weaken that link if they have sufficient resources.”

“In the context of the prime minister’s social justice agenda, that outcome looks perverse,”

Mr Schleicher , education director at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which publishes the Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) world rankings – TES February 2017

He has voiced concerns over schools struggling to make budget savings of 8 per cent to cope with increasing cost pressures.

Asked by TES about the funding squeeze affecting schools in England, Mr Schleicher said: “If you take the same system and you take money out of it, you lose and lack in quality. I think there’s no question around it.”

He spoke out as politicians from around the globe gathered in London for the Education World Forum, where England’s schools minister Nick Gibb again cited Pisa research approvingly.

Mr Schleicher said that in high-performing education systems, such as China, parents and governments prioritised spending on educating children, adding that “they invest in the future”.

“The UK has already spent the money on consumption today,” he said. “That’s where the debt crisis came from. It’s a value choice of societies to make. Education really is an important choice; that is the future.

“The school system today is your economy tomorrow, and that is something I worry about when governments have an attitude of, ‘Oh well, let’s cut some corners here’.”

 

Q16: Do you support our proposal to limit reductions on local authorities’ central school services block funding to 2.5% per pupil in 2018-19 and in 2019-20?

 Answer: No – limit reductions to less that 2.5% per pupil per year

Evidence:

 Schools rely on Local Authorities’ Central School Services to ensure that they are providing the services to their pupils that they should be, and taking account of best practises and lessons learned elsewhere. These services have already been critically cut by many Local Authorities, and no further cuts should be tolerated.

A second letter to Justine Greening, MP, Secretary of State for Education, arguing for increased funding for Primary Schools

(In response to my first letter to Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education, I received a reply informing me that the new National Funding Formula would protect funding for all schools, and raise funding for more than half of them. In reality, pressures from inflation, rising National Insurance and Pension liabilities and other factors mean that 98% of schools will lose funding in real terms. This is my reply to Ms. Greening arguing for more meaningful action to fund our schools properly so that they can prepare our children to face a future in a society that is changing significantly)

Dear Ms. Greening,

Thankyou for the letter I received from Michelle Boyes in your department in response to my letter to you dated 25th January.

I understand that your colleague Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, provided a similar response to Roger Godsiff MP who represents the Birmingham Hall Green Constituency in which I live. Mr. Godsiff had written to Mr. Gibb to raise similar concerns on behalf of all of the schools in his Constituency.

I will respond in detail to the Stage 2 Consultation on the National Funding Formula as advised by Ms. Boyes, and as Mr. Godsiff was advised by Mr. Gibb.

However, I do not believe that either Ms. Boyes letter to me or Mr. Gibb’s letter to Mr. Godsiff address any of the issues or evidence that we have presented.

The proposed National Funding Formula simply fails to achieve your stated aspirations for Education in the United Kingdom:

“This Government is committed to creating a country that works for everyone. No matter where they live, whatever their background, ability or need, children should have access to an excellent education that unlocks talent and creates opportunity. We want all children to reach their full potential and to succeed in adult life.”

– from your Foreword to “Schools and high needs national funding formulae: Executive summary

As has been widely reported in the media – particularly in the light of your apparent approval of the Treasury’s retraction of £384m in funding for schools following the abandonment of the compulsory conversion of all schools to Academies – funding for schools is in crisis.

Changing the distribution of existing funding for Schools – which is already falling in real terms – will not address that crisis. As Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Commons Select Committee for Education, said in his letter of 12 December 2016 to Mr. Gibb:

“Many schools find themselves unable to deliver essential functions and the way in which funding is distributed between schools is a second-order question. We are both all too well aware of the wider financial pressures under which schools in our own constituencies are seeking to operate.”

– “Letter from Chair to Nick Gibb MP regarding National Funding Formulae”, Neil Carmichael MP

Even the schools that benefit under the proposed new formula will in reality not benefit very much. A 5% increase in funds becomes a 2.5% increase after inflation. That is a very marginal amount. Inflation will also worsen the situation for schools whose funding is reduced, of course. The 3% limit on reductions per pupil becomes roughly a 5% reduction once inflation is taken into account.

The Apprenticeship Levy and the rising costs of pension and National Insurance contributions make the situation yet more severe. Schools are required to increase pension payments from 14% to 19% of salary, for example. Your departments’ own figures can be used to demonstrate that as a consequence 98% of schools face a reduction in funding in real terms. According to the National Audit Office schools will face a real-terms funding reduction of £3 billion by 2020.

In the constituency of Birmingham Hall Green where I live, the National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Association of Head Teachers, UNISON, GMB and UNITE have calculated that cuts will lead to a 10% loss of funding in year 2019/20 when compared to 2015/16, or more than £500 less for each child.

As a consequence, schools are already cutting back on the resources and activities that are crucial to your stated objective that “whatever their background, ability or need, children should have access to an excellent education that unlocks talent and creates opportunity”.

For example, my son’s school, Kings Heath Primary School in Birmingham, prides itself on the provision of mainstream education for children with complex needs. This is an incredibly powerful way to bring up our children to naturally accept diversity. But the approach depends on the availability of sufficient resources; on the ability to adapt the physical environment to be sufficiently accessible; and especially on the ability to employ an adequate number of teaching assistants.

The School estimates that they have historically received £100,000 less funds every year for Special Educational Needs than is needed to provide this support. The broader cuts that are now being made to their funds mean that this provision is under acute threat. This is in addition to £150,000-£200,000 of further staff cuts that will be made, including reducing the number of teaching assistants from 19 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) to 10 FTE.

Additional cost-saving measures that the school is taking include:

  • Replacing modern foreign language teaching with non-specialist and volunteer teachers.
  • Terminating the school’s subscription to a local Sports Partnership providing access to sport and Physical Education facilities.
  • Cancelling education visits.
  • Reducing swimming lessons.
  • Not being able to replace ICT equipment that is already 9 years old, and therefore badly out-of-date.
  • Not being able to replace playground equipment which is already showing signs of wear.
  • Expanding class sizes to 32 and further reducing teaching ratios.

In all of these cases, the children who need the most help will be the children who lose out the most.

These cuts would be troubling enough if we lived in a world in which we could trust our schools to prepare our children to face a stable, well-understood future. If that were true, then we would “only” be concerned that our schools were preparing our children less well than they were able to prepare previous generations.

But our children face a future that is much more uncertain than that.

Many economists and observers of the technology industry believer that we are part-way through a decades-long “Information Revolution” that will transform our society and economy just as much as – if not more than – the Industrial Revolution .

Experts disagree at present whether the dominant impact of the technologies of the Information Revolution will be to remove existing jobs through automation, or to create even more new jobs that exploit the capabilities of those new technologies (which was ultimately the effect of the Industrial Revolution).

What is certain, though, is that the jobs of the future will require vastly different skills than the jobs of today; and that we can barely conceive what those skills might be. This trend is already apparent: for example, whilst the number of manufacturing jobs in the USA is currently rising, prospective employees need increasingly sophisticated technical skills in order to manage the robotic machinery that now performs most of the work.

The economic effects can already be seen too. Since the arrival of the personal computer in the 1980s first ushered in the age of mass use of digital technology, whilst US GDP has nearly doubled, median household income hasn’t risen at all. Unemployment amongst young people in many European countries is between 20% and 50%. In the UK, there has been no increase in average earnings so far this decade, and young people in particular have become worse off. The situation is unlikely to improve for many years.

Research from the Universities of Oxford and New York, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Management Consultancy McKinsey, amongst others, predicts that increasingly rapid developments in digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will lead to the increasing automation of a significant proportion of jobs over the next few decades. McKinsey suggest that up to half of the activities that people are currently employed to perform will be automated within the next 30 years. Consequently, the jobs that current Primary School pupils will seek in 20 years’ time will require vastly different skills than the jobs of today; and we can barely conceive today what those skills might be.

Whilst our Secondary Schools provide in-depth education in well-defined subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Geography and Design, it is our Primary Schools that first develop our children’s overall attitude to learning.

We cannot be sure that in 20 years’ time subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Geography and Design will be valued in the employment marketplace. What we can be sure of is that children who are inspired to learn and adapt constantly throughout their lives will ultimately be successful in acquiring and using whatever are the economically important skills throughout their careers.

It is our Primary School environments that will create that inspiration or not, and we should focus our resources on enabling them to do so.

In light of this evidence, I urge you to reconsider the focus and objective of your Department’s work.

Of course funding for schools should be allocated in a way that is fair and that reflects the different needs of different pupils and different schools; and I congratulate you and your department on your work on the New Funding Formula to the extent that I believe that it does establish a framework for the fair distribution of funds.

But the fundamental problem facing the United Kingdom’s Schools is not the criteria that are used to apportion the available funds; it is a critical shortage in the funding available.

You and your Department should be fighting with all of your energy for dramatic improvements to that situation.

After all, what on Earth could be a higher priority for public funding than the future of our children?

Yours sincerely,

Dr Rick Robinson FBCS CITP FRSA

The funding crisis in our primary schools

This is a letter I have sent to Justine Greening, MP, Secretary of State for Education, and several other local MPs.

Dear Ms. Greening,

I am writing to urge you to address the funding crisis in our Primary schools, including the Primary school in Birmingham which my child attends.

The crisis has been created by Government policy to freeze Primary School funding, which no longer rises with inflation; by the reduction in funding for Primary Schools located in cities; by increased liabilities for staff pensions; by the new responsibility to pay the Apprenticeship Levy; and by the reduction in funding for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

As a result, class sizes are increasing, and the number of teachers and teaching assistants is falling, as is the availability of extra-curricular activities. This dramatically reduces the ability of Primary Schools to address the specific learning needs of individual children, whatever those needs may be.

Most worryingly, these cuts are taking place at arguably the most important time to invest in Primary education for more than a Century:

  • The unprecedented decision for the UK to leave the European Union demands that our future economy is driven by a more productive, more creative, more highly-skilled workforce to compensate for the likely increase in tariffs and barriers to trade and investment in one of our largest export markets. The Government has recognised this challenge in part in its recent announcement of new “Institutes of Technology” and other measures to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills in the UK workforce. But how effective will those Institutes be if the Primary Schools that prepare our children to attend them cannot afford to buy computers to teach the digital skills that will be vital to future productivity? And how can we enable Primary Schools to better equip our children with the creative, social, artistic, business and entrepreneurial skills that are equally important?
  • Regardless of the UK’s relationship with the European Union, our economy faces the same competitive pressure around the world to provide a highly-skilled workforce, as emerging economies offer increasingly skilled, cost-effective resources to the global marketplace.
  • The increase in inflation caused by the devaluation of Sterling following the vote to leave the European Union will further stretch frozen school budgets which are already shrinking in real terms.
  • Many economists believe that the global economy is undergoing a decades-long “Information Revolution”, driven by advances in digital technology, that will cause a transformation of our society and economy at least as significant as the Industrial Revolution. Recent work by the Universities of Oxford and New York, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and by the management consultancy McKinsey, amongst others, has predicted that up to half of the activities that make up the jobs that people are currently employed to do could be taken over by computing technology within the next three decades. For example, many thousands of professional drivers in the UK will lose their jobs to autonomous vehicles.In this context, the task of our Primary Schools is to prepare our children to possess skills and to seek jobs in 20 years’ time that we cannot currently imagine. The magnitude of that challenge surely demands that we prioritise significant increases to their funding and resources.

Our Primary Schools are simply not being given the resources to address this once-in-a-Century challenge that we – or more accurately our very young children – face.

I cannot imagine anything more important than investing in our children’s ability to make a success of their future. Our government is failing us in the most important way possible – undermining the future livelihood of our children – by continuing its current policy of reducing that investment.

I urge you to do everything you can to persuade Theresa May and the Conservative Government to address this grave mistake, and to convince them instead to dramatically improve the funding of Primary Schools throughout the country.

Links are provided below to evidence supporting my statements in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Rick Robinson FBCS CITP FRSA

“School Budgets Near Breaking Point, Say Head Teachers”, BBC News:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38698477

“Theresa May Gives Details of Action Plan for British Industry”, BBC News:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38713327

“Brexit: Inflation Set to Rise as UK Economy Faces Slowdown”, The Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-inflation-prices-cost-of-living-uk-economy-slowdowm-sterling-a7365066.html

“Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works”, McKinsey:

http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/digital-disruption/harnessing-automation-for-a-future-that-works

“The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?”, University of Oxford:

http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

“Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy”, New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2014-06-04/new-world-order