Times are tough for schools at the moment. The Government’s new formula for school funding has caused serious concerns for many headteachers. Today, I received a letter from one of my children’s schools (a local secondary which became an academy in 2013) outlining how the specific changes to the funding formula will result in a decrease of £151,000 in next year’s budget. Across the whole of Cheshire East, there is an average cut in funding of £87 per pupil under the proposed changes. This would result in Cheshire East becoming the worst funded Local Authority in England.
This is bad enough. But in the letter that I received, this headteacher goes on to outline some of the ways in which the school will be forced to cut its provision. I quote:
The unpalatable implications of this new funding formula for us here at XXX could be;
- The closing of our Sixth Form;
- The removal of all non-EBacc subjects from the curriculum (art, music, drama, design & technology etc). Children would only have lessons in English, maths, science, a modern foreign language, history or geography, PE and RE;
- The school only being open for the school day and then closing to save money on utilities – so the ending of all extra-curricular activities before and after school;
- The removal of key support staff, especially those linked to the pastoral care of students and those with special educational needs;
- The real possibility of a four-day school week!
I would urge you all to protest in the loudest terms to your local MP about these potential funding changes. Schools in Cheshire East are loosing significant funds; schools in other parts of the country are seeing increases in their funding. However, there is little equity here and the Government looks set to replace a failing system with an equally failing solution. Also, remember that these funding cuts already come on top of schools now being responsible for the increasing costs associated with pensions and National Insurance contributions.
I would also urge headteachers not abandon the principles of a broad and balanced curriculum for all their students. Shrinking a curriculum to remove non-EBacc subjects would be a disaster. Elsewhere in the letter, this headteacher states that ‘headteachers should always be apolitical’. I’d politely suggest to all headteachers that this is not the time to be apolitical but to fight for a fair education funding formula for all our children, and an equally broad and balanced curriculum for all of them too.