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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

Celebrations for Crawley school now ranked in top ten

Smiles all round for the Crawley school for making it into the top 10 out of 283 schools.

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Pupils, Parents & Carers, Governors and Staff were all celebrating at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Primary School this week, after it emerged the school, located in Langley Green, has been ranked 7th (out of 283 schools) in this year’s Key Stage 2 West Sussex School League Tables.

Chair of Governors, Maja Jasko, said:

“this is an amazing achievement and the result of the hard work, commitment and determination of the children, OLQOH staff, Parents & Carers and Governors, over many years. The OLQOH Governors would also like to congratulate our Key Stage 1 Pupils and Teaching Team, who also achieved fantastic outcomes in 2017/18, with 93% of children passing the ‘Phonics Check’, and combined outcomes in Year 2 exceeding the WSCC County Average.”

Deputy Head Teacher, Jan Miles, went on to comment:

“OLQOH recognises that academic outcomes represent just a fraction of the vital work that all primary schools are doing, preparing our children and young people for both secondary school and adult life. Nonetheless, these result build on the excellent SATs scores achieved at Our Lady’s over the past 5 years and reflect our school mantra ‘Better Never Stops!’.”

 

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