6th June 2017
SCHOOL FUNDING CRISIS IN SCHOOLS
Over recent weeks a number of parents have contacted the school to express dismay at what they have read and seen in the media regarding the national funding position in education. With that in mind I thought it might be useful to write to all parents/carers to explain the impact national funding decisions are having at Stratton.
Upper Schools like us have found themselves in a particularly difficult position in recent years as government policy has been to reduce spending on post 16 learners, particularly those attending Sixth Form Colleges or schools with Sixth Forms such as ours. The impact has been to reduce Sixth Form funding by approximately 12% over the last five years.
In addition, over that same five-year period, the costs of operating schools have increased substantially. The main factors being:
- 3% increase in local government employee pension contributions
- 3% increase in teachers’ pension employer contributions
- 4% increase in National Insurance contributions from April 2016
Schools have also had to introduce new courses and assessment frameworks in support of the revised National Curriculum. Within our age range these changes include substantial investment in textbooks and materials for new courses both within Key Stage 4 and the Sixth Form, more expensive exam fees and the requirement to ensure teachers receive appropriate training.
Up until this year, schools have received “flat- cash” settlements. This has meant schools have had to absorb the impact of rising costs. It is true that overall spending on education is at a historical high, but a sharp and recent increase in the number of school age pupils nationally has meant that the education pot is now being spread even thinner. Next year, the amount of money per pupil is set to decrease.
Stratton has already taken significant action to respond to what has effectively been a period of regular cuts to the school’s spending power. In 2015 we took the difficult decision to adjust our average class sizes and raise the amount of contact time (the number of lessons teachers teach) to the maximum permissible. Equivalent adjustments have been implemented amongst non-teaching staff.
We frequently hear the phrase that schools are expected to “do more with less” and this has been the case over recent years. Our staff have absorbed this increased pressure on their time and commitment yet continued to do their utmost in supporting our students through the challenges of GCSE and A level.
We believe that we will be able to continue to provide an excellent quality of provision next year, though yet more will be asked of staff.
All of us at Stratton would like to thank you for your ongoing support and particularly those of you who tell us they have expressed their concerns to their MPs, and in some cases directly to the Prime Minister and Justine Greening, who was until the recent dissolution of Parliament the Secretary of State for Education.
We believe there is some evidence that the plight of Education is being increasingly understood by parents and politicians, but only a decisive and immediate change in current funding proposals will stop what is a currently challenging time becoming a desperate one.