• King’s School has “serious concerns” about funding cuts - letter to parents

    17th January 2017 | News | Claire
  • For many years Devon has been one of the lowest-funded education authorities in England. In 2016-17 this resulted in a shortfall of £290 per pupil when compared to the national average. This difference in funding for us has an impact of being funded £263,900 less than the average across the UK for 2016/17.

    This significant funding shortfall has, and will continue to impact, on the quality of the education provision for children at The King’s School.

    On Wednesday 14th December 2016 the Secretary of State for Education announced the stage 2 consultation of the national funding formula for schools. We had hoped that this announcement would bring about a readjustment in funding that would be favourable to our school given our historic underfunding.

    Despite national news headlines which intimated that urban schools were ‘losers’ and rural schools ‘winners’, the reality for The King’s School is that we will see a 2.9% decrease in our
    funding by 2019-20 equating to £123,000 less in our school budget.

    Significant factors in this are the increased weighting that deprivation and prior attainment (Key Stage 2 scores) have within the suggested schools national funding formula. We are not
    alone in this as the vast majority of the secondary schools in East Devon have also been affected negatively by these national changes.

    The legacy of an unsatisfactory funding settlement has been further worsened for our school by rising expenditure demands owing to national policy decisions beyond our control notably those associated with staffing costs.

    The King’s School Funding Context
    1. Fair Funding

    Devon received a funding allocation of £4,346 per pupil in 2016-17. The national average was £4,636 which means there is still a shortfall for Devon of £290 per pupil.

    This difference in funding has an impact of being funded £263,900 less than the average across the UK for 2016/17. This significant funding shortfall has, and will continue to impact, on the quality of the education provision for children at The King’s School. Over 85% of our budget is associated with staffing linked to a national pay structure and to manage this significant shortfall in funding the loss of some front line staff is inevitable.

    Whilst I appreciate the government policy on restraint in public sector spending, the gross inequality of education funding across the UK based on local factors, in a system that’s dominated by staffing costs with a national structure needed to be urgently addressed.

    2. Rising Cost Pressures
    The King’s School is experiencing a range of costs pressures, which if taken individually could be accommodated but the cumulative effect is significant to the overall funding received by the school.

    These pressures include:

     General increases in staffing costs including:-
    – the impact of the national living wage
    – increases to both the Teachers and NJC Staff pension schemes. (£62,000)
    – increases in National Insurance Contributions (£65,000)
    – the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy from April 2017 (£10,000)
    – national pay structure annual increases (£60,000 per annum)

     The removal of the Education Services Grant from 2017/18.

     The impact of the SEND code of practice and Post 16 & 19 eligibility which has enabled young people with Special Educational Needs to choose to remain in education up until the age of 25, without comparable additional funding

    As the above pressures continue to impact on our school the effect is being seen in the level of carry forward being forecast in the future. Whilst we have taken some significant action to alleviate our deficit budget position, our current projections over the next couple of years will dwindle our contingent reserves to nothing.

    The resultant scenario on top of the real terms reduction to our school budget, compounded by the announcement and full implementation of the new national formula as it currently stands, dictates that our school financially will reach a real crisis point in the next 3 years.

    We are an Ofsted recognised ‘outstanding’ school, and whilst we will continue to remain committed to looking creatively at trimming costs, we are reaching the point where the impact of cost saving measures will now have a lasting and negative impact on the education of young people. We will start to see a narrowing of the curriculum pre- and post-16, larger class
    sizes, less in-class support for students and a squeeze on administrative support.

    As a school community, we are therefore seeking your valued support in raising awareness of this urgent situation facing our school and to petition on our behalf to the Secretary of State and your local MP to consider an urgent solution to mitigate the impact of the present crisis.

    Beyond the immediate budgetary challenges, we cannot emphasise enough the vital need to respond to the national funding formula consultation to redress the inequalities, deficiencies and flaws in the system and the funding of education more generally.

    We are offering additional support to parents/carers to understand the complex issue of school funding as outlined above by hosting an information evening on Thursday 26th January at 6pm in the school canteen.

    Please email the school
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by Friday 20th January to confirm that you wish to attend this meeting.

    Those in attendance are
    welcome to also attend the PTFA meeting which is taking place at 6.30pm.