We don’t normally write about current affairs unless it’s to satirise them, but the current changes being proposed will have an effect on everyone in school, and so we would inform readers on the various arguments surrounding education funding changes.
It was unveiled earlier this month that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was pressing ahead with reforms to the education funding formula that had been proposed last year. The plans propose to level the amount of funding per student each school gets, in an attempt to remove the current "outdated, inefficient and unfair" system of budget appropriation.
According to the BBC, pupils in Rotherham each receive £500 per year more in funding than those in Plymouth, even though they have similar levels of disadvantage, and December last year saw a petition by former Education Select Committee chairman Graham Stuart said the best-funded areas received up to £6,300 per pupil per year, while the worst-funded received £4,200.
Many students will have received letters from Cllr Angela Mason, who said that Camden is “one of the highest spenders per pupil in England.” The plans are said to plug the gaps in funding that have arisen from the current system, as well as give a “fairer” deal for those in need. But how will this affect Camden schools?
In her letter, Angela Mason argued that “rather than providing more money to those areas which they consider are underfunded, this could mean that Camden, as a relatively well-funded authority, could see a cash reduction for schools to pay for uplifts in the school budgets of less well-funded authorities.” In short, rather than putting more money into the pot to raise standards to the best, the government is proposing to take money from thriving areas to stem disadvantaged ones.
According to the council, “London schools could lose £260million”, which is equivalent to “6,253 full time teachers”, Camden itself potentially losing “5.2%” of their funding, which amounts to “£322 per pupil” lost. Christine Blower, leader of the National Union of Teachers, said the proposals would “impose huge funding cuts on many schools unless additional funding is made available. Schools are already suffering real term cuts to per pupil funding”.
Nicky Morgan also said the plans would ensure money goes “straight to the frontline”, with future funding going straight from central government to the Head, bypassing the local authority entirely. Is this a good thing? On the one hand, the school gets exactly the amount of funding the government has handed down to them, rather than all Camden funding being pooled and then divided by the council, however, as we have documented many times, the Head can at times play fast and loose with the school’s budget. As it stands, the Head is fully accountable to the Local Education Authority, who deal with matters within schools akin to Kinnan’s expulsion.
What can you do to change this? Unfortunately, without large national upheaval, it is unlikely the government will reverse their plans, but by writing to your MP, to the Education Secretary, or by signing petitions, you can contribute to that national voice. If the proposals cannot be reversed, ask that the government recognise that there are “higher costs in Camden due to the cost of living and higher levels of deprivation than most local authority areas”, as Angela Mason says. After all, what the Education Secretary seems to have failed to realise is that the majority of people in secondary education now will be able to vote come the next election, and will doubtful vote for a party who provided them with less educational funding whilst tripling the cost of higher education.