Funding – a crisis or a redistribution?
The National Funding Formula has been spoken about for a long time. To establish a fairer system across the country has been the goal of the F40 group. A positive move forward was the government’s increase to the lowest funded local authorities and this was greeted as progress, however, not all authorities have passported monies into the High Needs Block. As a consequence, in some areas the funding gap has widened for special schools.
The delay in consultation and proposals for a High Needs National Funding structure has been concerning. With significant pressures being put upon our budgets from increases in National Insurance and pension costs, special schools have been experiencing difficulties balancing the books. Set against this, an ever increasing complexity of need is arriving at the door which is resource and staff hungry, and life is becoming increasingly difficult for all involved.
We then start to hear whispers from the National Audit Office of reductions in school budgets of 8% by 2020, and the National Funding Formula being used to redistribute that smaller pot, not distributing additional resources to rectify the inequalities that have been present for many years. There is also a desperate need to recognise the growth in complexity of need and the increasing pressure in many areas for additional pupil places in the sector.
There have been a number of worrying articles published lately. One by the NAHT outlining the potential effect on an LA such as Birmingham, one on the BBC from the Grammar Schools Association outlining plans to potentially ask parents for contributions, in a voluntary manner, to fund staffing etc.
From this initial information it looks as though our base funding is significantly under threat. We need to start talking to local authorities, MPs and the EFA to inform ourselves and to start to identify the issues we need to raise, not only with the DfE but also ministers, to highlight the potential consequences of such actions.
If we do not do this as the professionals responsible for the most vulnerable students in the system, who else is going to??
SSV will take the issues to ministers but we need evidence and examples we can use to add to our case. Please use the systems in place to contact us. We are organising a series of meetings with civil servants and hopefully ministers in the coming months.
Chris Davies (SWALSS Representative)