Education secretary Damian Hinds’ announcement at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) annual conference that he will push for “the right level of funding” in this year’s spending review is a welcome development.
ASCL has calculated that schools need an additional £5.7 million in 2019-20 to be able to deliver the “basic expectation”, and also warned that schools have become a fourth emergency service for poor pupils, providing food, clothing and social care support because of cuts to other services. This, together with stories of the impact of budget cuts on individual schools, simply underlines the funding issue.
Members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) have written to more than a million families since the turn of the year to warn them of the negative impact of funding cuts. School funding was also discussed in parliament last month, prompted by a petition signed by more than 100,000 people. There is no doubt that the issue, as Hinds’ says, is being heard “loud and clear”, but how will this be resolved?
Subsequently, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said that the new national funding formula will resolve “unhappiness” about investment in schools – with money being spread more fairly between schools – but the general consensus amongst sector leaders seems to be that this is not the solution to the cash crisis in schools.
The good news is that the issue of school funding has broken back through into mainstream news and politicians cannot ignore it, yet it remains to be seen whether the education secretary can secure a significant increase for schools from the Treasury. However, for a long time, it seemed as though the debate on school funding was locked in an endless loop and maybe, just maybe, we are finally seeing some movement.
We still need to keep the funding issue in the public eye. Our children only get one chance at going to school. We cannot allow their experience to be blighted by cuts that are shredding their educational entitlement in a way that none of us has ever seen before in our lifetime. And with more central government funding still not guaranteed, schools need to consider every possible route to income generation and fundraising.
The FundStar team
5th April 2019