March 2017 Update
See the downloads below
January 2017 Update
Worth Less? Worth Enough?
Following publication of the second part of the National Funding Formula (NFF) consultation (see link below), school leaders across West Sussex are saddened by the fact that for many schools the financial situation does not look like it is improving either in the short or longer terms. Key headlines are as follows:
• As yet, no interim funding has been offered to West Sussex schools for the year 2017/18.
• The NFF will begin in April 2018, the new proposals allocate funding with greater fairness and transparency as all schools across England are funded via the same methodology.
• These new arrangements are, however, being severely undermined by:
– The ongoing introduction of unfunded costs being placed upon schools, such as increasing employer NI and pension contributions as well as Educational Service Grant costs. These ´stealth taxes´ lie outside of the NFF.
– Schools not receiving adequate ´core funding´ to meet basic staffing and equipment costs.
– The governments decision to make £3 billion of "efficiency saving" from school budgets.
Using data from WSCC and the DFE´s own database, under current NFF proposals the following will occur:
• In 2018 West Sussex schools will, on average, gain a further £79 per pupil rising to £144 in April 2020.
• After the introduction of NFF (2018), unfunded cost burdens will, however, mean that such gains are offset to the point where the vast majority of schools in West Sussex will be no better off (or even worse off) than the current dire financial situation.
• In terms of funding received, West Sussex schools will remain 148th out of 151 Local Authorities.
The new NFF arrangements are relatively complicated and more in depth analysis can be found via the link below.
Headteachers in all West Sussex schools are dismayed that our financial situation looks so bleak. As a consequence, our fears about reduced staffing levels, increased class sizes and reductions in curricular and pastoral provision are likely to become a reality in either the short term, medium term or both.
School Leaders are united in their belief that the current situation is both unfair and unsustainable.
Previously we were made to feel that pupils in West Sussex were ´Worth Less´, under the new arrangements they simply don´t appear to be "Worth Enough".
Our first step is to raise important questions with ministers from the DFE and our own local MPs. We are happy to share these questions with you and would urge you to raise similar concerns with your local representatives (see attached link below).
We will continue to do everything in our power to maintain standards of care and provision but also feel that it is important to let you know just how bad matters are at present. Your support as we continue with our campaign will be vital.
November 2016 Update
You will be aware that school leaders from across West Sussex have been meeting with local MPs – Jeremy Quin and Nick Herbert – and the Leader of West Sussex County Council, Louise Goldsmith, in order to pursue our goal of gaining £20m interim funding for April 2017.
At the time of writing we are extremely disappointed that we have no positive news to report. In short, despite the fact that there is no dispute over the funding figures provided or indeed our current dire financial situation, no additional money is being provided to West Sussex schools/academies.
We remain grateful to local politicians for their continuing engagement with the Worth Less? campaign and for their lobbying work at Westminster in support of our request. All local MPs have confirmed that they will continue to help us to secure this vital additional funding.
School leaders recognise that the introduction of a new National Funding Formula may well alleviate our financial problems in the future but we all know that any positive effects are some considerable way off.
In light of this, school leaders are reviewing what further actions we need to take. Our first inclination is to continue working alongside political leaders to try and secure additional funding by January 2017.
If we are not successful at this point, we will continue to consult with all of our stakeholders in order to find the best way forward. There should be no doubt in anyone´s minds, however, that our financial situation is very bad indeed and without immediate help the provision for pupils in all of our school settings will be severely and detrimentally affected.
We continue to be extremely grateful for your support and will update you further in due course.
October 2016 Update
Along with every other Headteacher in West Sussex, I am pleased to be able to provide you with an update of Worth Less? and our campaign for £20m of transitional funding for West Sussex in the financial year starting April 2017.
Due to the strength of our case and the superb support that parents have given to the campaign – we have 20,000 likes on our Facebook page – our vital message has gained significant media coverage.
We are determined that, by fully demonstrating our dire financial situation, the government will provide transitional funding which will support us until a new National Funding Formula is put in place; hopefully by April 2018.
As we are all aware, schools and academies in West Sussex cannot afford to simply wait for the new formula to be put in place and take effect. At the very best, our budgets will only really begin to benefit from a favourable new formula over the next three to four years. This is much too long to wait for children who are in our schools today.
Support for the campaign has continued to gather pace. We are, for example, grateful to parents who have also launched their own petition calling for West Sussex Funding to be raised to the national average when the new formula comes into effect. For ease of reference, the link for this petition is shown below:
MPs across West Sussex have continued to support Worth Less? and have also highlighted the importance of a new National Funding Formula. On 18 October, MPs will meet with the School´s Minister, Nick Gibb and then on 2 November, they will meet with Justine Greening, the Secretary of State. We hope very much that their intervention will bring about a long term improvement to our school finances, via the National Funding Formula and most critically, the £20m transitional funding that is needed.
The Leader of West Sussex County Council – Louise Goldsmith – has also added her voice to the campaign and we are grateful to all those local political leaders for their support and interventions. We look forward to further meetings, including at our Headteacher seminar on 18 November, where Mr Nick Herbert MP and Mr Jeremy Quin MP have agreed to attend.
We must keep on stressing the point, however, that as well as a much fairer National Funding Formula, schools and academies require transitional funding now. We have no desire to take the actions that were noted in our previous letter but without more funding, negative decisions that affect your child´s future education will become inevitable.
On 18 October, a representative group of Headteachers, pupils and parents will go to Downing Street to re-emphasise our urgent need for transitional funding. Again, this will allow us to discuss our financial situation very clearly and enable us to show how much support there is for Worth Less? With this in mind, we would be grateful if you could keep on adding to the overall ´likes´ on Facebook and maintain your support by using the link below:
September 2016 Update
´One click for fairness´
You will be aware that schools and academies in West Sussex remain massively underfunded when compared to the national average or London. This year, West Sussex children received £44m less than the national average and £200m less than the average London borough.
This unfairness is having a crippling effect upon schools across the county. During the last school year, ´Worth Less?´ campaigned for interim funding support to help us overcome the current situation. The government refused to support and told us that matters would improve with the introduction of a National Fair Funding Formula that would be in place by April 2017. This is no longer the case and the introduction has been delayed with no clear future date set.
To make matters worse, the government continues to state that education funding has been protected. Again, this is simply not true. Costs in areas such as pensions and National Insurance contributions are estimated, by the Independent Institute of Fiscal Studies, to have further slashed our budgets by 8-10% year on year.
School leaders have made every conceivable cut to our provision and now we are faced with reducing basic services still further, all to the disadvantage of your child. Our finances are so bad that we are all having to consider the following types of action:
• Modifying school opening hours.
• Increasing teacher to pupil ratios again.
• Reducing basic services such as cleaning and site and premises work.
• Stopping any investment in books and IT equipment.
• Designing curriculum offers that fulfil only basic requirements.
• Not replacing staff who leave.
As you can imagine, such radical considerations are the very last thing that any school wishes to do but we are being given no option. We do not understand why children in our school are ´Worth Less?´ than others around the country. Even when a National Funding Formula is introduced, it will take at least three years to have a really significant effect on our budgets. We cannot wait that long.
Recently, the government has announced initiatives such as the ´academies for all´ programme and the introduction of new grammar schools. £500m was earmarked for the academies programme with a further £50m for the grammar school policy. This proves that the money is there, should government wish to spend it on our children.
It is the belief of all school leaders that the time has come for immediate action that will enable us to provide the service that your child deserves. To that end, we are again urging the government to pledge a minimum of £20m to West Sussex for the new financial year beginning April 2017. This would still leave us lagging way behind the national average but it would mean that we can cope.
After your support during the last school year, we urgently need it again. This can be done in a straightforward way but it will have a massive effect on government.
Simply go to the Worth Less? Facebook page: (www.facebook.com/WorthLessWestSussex) and like the ´£20 million transitional funding´ image. We already have over 13,000 followers of the Worth Less page – if we can get huge numbers to like our campaign then we can deliver the message, with your children, to 10 Downing Street over the next two to three weeks. We all hope that, with support from politicians, the message will finally get through and appropriate action will be taken. We believe that we are ´one click for fairness´.
School leaders will always act responsibly on behalf of the children we educate and care for. We need your support in order to do this to the best of our abilities. Please help us to do this by clicking on the logo now.
January 2016 Update
As 2016 begins, we would like to update you on our Worth Less? campaign. The good news is that a coordinated approach by Headteachers from every primary, special and secondary school across the county has been given universal support by parents, carers and other key stakeholders. Your input on Facebook and through letters to your MP has made a real difference. Awareness of the unfair, systematic underfunding that all schools in West Sussex suffer from has never been higher.
We also remain grateful for the work of local politicians who are working with the government to try and improve matters both in the short and longer terms. The fact remains, however, that children in West Sussex receive £41 million less than the average and over £200 million less than pupils in many larger urban areas such as (local authorities within) London.
As you know, the government has begun to listen to concerns and a funding formula review is underway. In due course, it will be important to analyse and consider the details of any proposed changes.
In the short term, however, the news is not good. Despite the systematic underfunding for children´s education in West Sussex, the government has only been able to offer £930k (from April 2016 – March 2017) as an interim payment to the 300 schools in West Sussex. Sadly, this represents an increase of less than £10 per child. Bluntly, it is the equivalent of the cost of a cinema ticket. Bearing in mind that our children are funded 10% less than the national average, this is simply not good enough and children´s education across West Sussex will suffer as a result.
Other Headteacher colleagues and I are mindful of being realistic in our approach but we believe it would be wrong to stand by and see children in West Sussex being disadvantaged any longer. With this in mind, we are campaigning for an uplift of £200 per pupil (from April 2016) until a new formula is put in place. In effect, this would generate £20 million for all schools yet still leave us £200 (per pupil) below the national average. We think that ´£200 for £20m´ is both realistic and reasonable and we will be contacting local MPs and the Department for Education to make this point loud and clear.
Your proactive support has never been needed more. In order to gain this funding improvement, we urge you to do the following:
• Continue to ´Like´ and ´share´ the campaign – particularly ´£200 for £20m´ and comment positively on Facebook https:((www.facebook.comlWorthLessWestSussex
• Contact your local MP – you could use the attached pro forma – and re–state the need for an immediate improvement to current funding from April 2016.
• Contact local newspapers, BBC Radio Sussex and South Today/Meridian TV expressing your support for Worth Less? and, in particular, ´£200 for £20m´.
Thanks again for your continued support which is already making a difference.