Headteachers speak out over ‘bleak’ school funding plans

Headteachers Richard Bradford (Dorothy Stringer School), Ashley Harrold (Blatchington Mill School)  and Rob Reed (Hove Park School)
Headteachers Richard Bradford (Dorothy Stringer School), Ashley Harrold (Blatchington Mill School) and Rob Reed (Hove Park School)

Brighton and Hove headteachers have written to the city’s MPs over ‘mounting fears’ on the future of school funding.

It follows the launch of a new National Funding Formula, which is scheduled to begin in 2018.

Richard Bradford, headteacher at Dorothy Stringer, sent the three MPs a letter on behalf of the Brighton and Hove Secondary School Partnership.

It is part of a campaign by schools across the country against the government’s new funding plans. The campaign involves headteachers from Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Peterborough, Wokingham, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk, West Sussex, Cornwall, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Devon, Norfolk and Thurrock.

Mr Bradford told Caroline Lucas (Green MP for Brighton Pavilion), Peter Kyle (Labour MP for Hove), and Simon Kirby (Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown) that Brighton and Hove secondary schools had now joined the campaign.

He said: “Recently, school leaders from four counties expressed significant concern at the bleak situation that their schools, and the vast majority of others, are facing. Now, school leaders in Brighton and Hove have joined with 13 other counties as we continue to speak with ‘one voice’.

“In spite of the increasingly damaging financial situation, no adequate response has been provided in terms of our concerns about current and future spending proposals made by the Department for Education.

“There is no question that a new National Funding Formula is urgently required but it must be credible and reverse the unsustainable and deeply unsatisfactory methodology that is currently used to allocate school funds.

“Rather than making matters better, the new National Funding Formula proposals do not offer meaningful solutions to our current and future school finances.”

He added that the new National Funding Formula is ‘based on a flawed and outdated model’ and that it ignores inflationary cost pressures ‘that all schools are enduring’.

Mr Bradford said: “To make matters worse - far worse - the Department for Education continues to divert significant monies to capital and revenue funding such as Free School provision and Grammar School expansion and this does not always guarantee value for money. At the same time, our schools simply do not have adequate funds to provide the education that every child in our care needs and deserves.

“To see such ill-judged spending being prioritised in a time of austerity is unacceptable. The disconnect between a Department making decisions that seem to entirely ignore the wishes and needs of dedicated and committed school leaders provides significant and tangible cause for concern.

“School leaders simply want a reasonable settlement that sees every child in every school adequately funded.”

He told the MPs: “As a collective group representing over 3500 schools and 1.5million pupils we do not wish to be ignored any longer. We need, therefore, for our local political representatives to stand up for every school in their constituency and make clear that considerable changes to funding arrangements/proposals must be put in place.

“Any permanent new funding formula will require parliamentary approval and this makes your role even more crucial.”

Mr Bradford asked the MPs to back the campaign so that ‘schools and their communities will then be able to present a united front to the Department for Education to ensure that the children in our schools receive the educational opportunities that they deserves’.

“In turn, parents and carers will be able to see, without equivocation, that their child’s education is being put first by local school and political leaders and that meaningful changes to an urgently required new National Funding Formula will be put in place,” he said.