The Chancellor’s announcement that schools are to receive an extra £2.6 billion next year – and the unveiling of a three-year plan to boost school funding by £7.1 billion by 2022-23 – is, on the surface at least, a welcome development.
However, whilst this apparent commitment would be sufficient to reverse the budget cuts of the past decade, there is a question about why schools must wait until next year for this additional funding and sector leaders have raised their concerns about a funding plan that will take three years. Kevin Courtney, joint leader of the National Education Union, has said the funding promises
“go some way towards closing the gap, but are still significantly short of what is required”.
And Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, warned the lack of immediate funding meant there is
“still a big problem for schools whose budgets are already at breaking point”.
Meanwhile, and predictably, other political parties have seriously questioned the funding. Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, rejected the three-year plan as a “con trick” that would still leave schools waiting years for funding they needed straight away. And Liberal Democrats’ education spokesperson Layla Moran, writing in the Tes, said:
“Some schools will get some money in the Spring. Academies – which include most secondary schools – will have to wait until September 2020. For schools worried that they will have to cut the number of teaching assistants this term, this doesn’t help. Schools are in crisis now. Teachers need resources this week, not next year”.
The debate on central government funding for education is going to rumble on – but an issue which also needs to be addressed in the 2019-20 academic year (and one that schools can effect) is fundraising. Cast our minds back to last Autumn, and Parentkind’s annual parent survey which found that a) 43% of parents have been asked to give money to a school fund, with many routinely making voluntary donations of up to £30 every month; and b) the average monthly amount being donated increased from a reported £8.90 in 2017 to £11.35 in 2018.
However, a worrying statistic is that only half of parents know how their money is being spent. This is something we overcome through FundStar, which offers schools a strategic and co-ordinated approach to raising money for nominated projects. Each school gets a login to their FundStar account so they can see how much has been raised and how close they are to reaching their target. And all schools receive a complete support system including a kit of materials to help them encourage donor participation, practical sessions involving pupils, parents, PTA groups and school staff, and professional fundraising advice. It is a perfect solution to a very real, practical challenge facing schools.
The FundStar team
4th September 2019