Finance comes centre stage

Up until 2017, education, and specifically the schools sector, has been a relatively easy ride for the government on the back of some historic funding levels that originated during the last Labour government and were largely protected under the coalition. Is 2017 the year when all this is set to change? Will parents start noticing the arrival of austerity in the nation’s schools or will they be persuaded that the new funding formula is actually providing additional funding for schools, especially in the more rural tory heartlands?

The Rural Services Network clearly subscribes to the latter view with a headline in their latest bulletin, Government plans will see small rural schools protected by a ‘sparsity’ funding factor’. http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/services/sparsity-funding-to-protect-rural-schools On the other hand, the NUT/ATL collaboration of teacher associations thinks differently according to their press release that combines the new funding formula with the recent National Audit Office publication to come to the conclusion that ‘school funding cuts [are] worse than predicted. JAMs [Just about Managing] hit hardest as school budgets plummet’. Clearly, this group remain a key target for those concerned with policy-makers.

The NUT/ATL press notice cites the following as average cuts for different groups.

Primary pupils

Cut for every pupil between 2015/16 and 2019/20

Schools with the least number of JAMs: £297 a year

Schools with the most number of JAMs: £447 a year

Secondary pupils

Cut for every pupil between 2015/16 and 2019/20

Schools with the least JAMs: £489 a year

Schools with the most JAMs: £658 a year

JAMs are calculated by NUT/ATL in the following manner: Our metric for JAMs at a school is the number of pupils who are currently not receiving free school meals but have done at some point in the last six years. We then put the schools in 10 groups based on the percentage of JAMs on the school register, and found funding averages for each group.

Now this assumes that those that come off the free school meals register move into work at the JAM level. But if they found work six years ago they might now be earning more. However, the analysis does seem to reflect that some schools are worse off than others.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, cutbacks of this magnitude are likely to affect staffing levels in schools. Whether schools will concentrate on keeping teachers and reviewing staffing levels for non-teaching staff will be a factor TeachVac will be monitoring during 2017. The number of entry level leadership posts may also come under scrutiny if schools are trying to save money. Other areas of the budget likely to be affected are, repairs and maintenance and spending on professional development. MATs may well want to ask  whether a better deal is possible on professional fees and staff in schools may query whether their executive head should earn more that the local Director of Children’s services?

Finally, for schools looking for saving, TeachVac remains the free recruitment site that costs schools, teachers and trainees nothing to use; visit www.teachvac.co.uk to try it out in 201.

 

 

 

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