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St Wilfrid’s Head: A response to the Chancellor

St Wilfrid’s Head Michael Ferry responds to the 2018 Budget delivered by Chancellor Phillip Hammond.

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On the 28th September some 2000+ Headteachers congregated in Parliament Square and then politely and respectfully walked to Downing Street to deliver a letter to the Chancellor.

This was an unprecedented act by people in trusted positions within society and within their localities. The only motive for this was to show how critical the situation is regrading funding for Education across the land.

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For many years West Sussex was the 4th worst funded LA (Local Authority) for Education (out of 151 LA’s). Since the emergence of the National Funding Formula (NFF) West Sussex has risen to the 6th worst funded LA!

The premise of the NFF is very welcome and the DfE should be congratulated for “seizing the nettle”, an act which previous governments (of all persuasions) have consistently avoided. There is however a “but!” and that is a very simple one, “but” all the NFF does in its current guise is redistribute the current amount of funding going into Education and in so doing, it reinforces the historical inequalities of previous funding mechanisms. That’s why West Sussex remains so low in the rankings.

Across the nation Headteachers are saying that their budgets are at breaking point, some are asking parents to pay for essentials, schools are not replacing staff who leave, redundancy programmes have been put in place, building repairs are being put on hold, the curriculum is being narrowed, Arts subjects are being lost, all with one impact, that the educational experience of children, your child, your children, is being negatively affected.

So, on the 28th September the letter signed on behalf of Headteachers from over 50 counties was delivered to Mr Hammond reinforcing the dire state we are in and asking him [to]:

1. Fund all schools adequately and reverse the real term cuts that have happened since 2010

2. Inject £400 million into Special Education (Special education is not included in the NFF)

3. Improve the funding for the post 16 sector (20% drop in real terms since 2010 and not included in the NFF)

The letter was delivered and we waited. Yesterday in the Autumn Budget Statement we received our answer. We did not expect at “magic wand” moment but we expected to be taken seriously. What we got was flippant remarks and a £400m “in year bonus” which will be ring-fenced for “little extras” (effectively it is a sum which can be spent on capital works/buildings which, according to the chancellor equates to an average of £10k per primary school and £50k for a secondary school).

“Little Extras”; as a Headteacher for about 5 years now, I have spent the last 4 years trying to reduce costs. I have in that time “saved” over £330k by not replacing staff as they have left. I am down 5.5 teachers (including 2 Assistant Headteachers) 6 Teaching Assistants and 1 PCSO. The curriculum has narrowed and I am left with less staff but with significantly more work to do. It is not sustainable in the long term and even now we have the dread of an 6-7% increase looming for employers pension contributions next year.

“Little Extras”! Perhaps on reflection Mr Hammond may agree that his choice of words could have been better. The £400m he describes is welcome but in delivering this he has not addressed the points that Headteachers continue to make about the perilous state of Education funding in England. In choosing not to give a lifeline to schools at this time he has disregarded the protest of the 28th September and the genuine attempts by Headteachers across the country to make things better for the children in their charge.

So what next? Without doubt, the campaigning for fairer funding by Headteachers, parents and governors will continue. For me, however disappointing and frustrating yesterday’s announcement was it has strengthened my resolve as I know it has for so many of my colleagues. We will not rest until we have a fair system of funding which ensures that each and every school has an adequate amount to meet the needs of its children and that no child is Worthless?

Education

Chelsea FC Foundation brings initiative to Crawley school

The Chelsea Champions Programme is a Premier League funded project that enables Chelsea FC Foundation to place full-time staff within secondary schools and Thomas Bennett Community College was chosen for their programme.

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The aim of their programme is to increase physical activity, support leadership qualities and improve social, emotional wellbeing and increase resilience of pupils through a number of universal, targeted and individual initiatives.

Cutting through the jargon it is an exercise on both educating and motivating young people, in particular those who may be finding it harder than others with everyday situations

A spokesperson for Cheslea FC Foundation said:

“Here at Thomas Bennett Community College (TBCC) our Chelsea Champion is; Lauren Owens, who is supported by a Chelsea mentor; Yannick Jean. The Chelsea Fc Foundation Sussex department have taken over the old youth wing attached to TBCC, rebranded and relaunched it as the Community Hub. Open every day after school from 3-5pm, Monday-Thursday to TBCC students and Primary School students on a Friday. During half term, we open the Hub for Holiday Activities.

As part of support offered at TBCC, Chelsea FC Foundation have developed the Skills School project. An alternative learning provision that is to encourage positive behaviour in a group of ‘high profile’ students that struggle within main stream lessons. They take part in a variety of different activities and topics from English to Health and Wellbeing, Maths to Personal Skills. The aim is not only to help improve their behaviour in and around school but improve their self-esteem and resilience.”

Last Friday (15th March), the u18s Chelsea Academy Scholars delivered a session based around raising aspirations.

The foundation said the session was something planned out by the U18s Chelsea Academy Scholars based on information that they were given about the group of students.

The activities included looking at questions to encourage conversations around the following; ‘what being a role model was?’, ‘what qualities does a good role model have?’ and ‘what does aspirations mean?’ The main message they  put across to the students involved in the activity was that hard work pays off.”

For more information on how Chelsea FC Foundation can support your school, club or community please contact them on sussexdevelopment@chelseafc.com.

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