The new funding formula for schools that has been proposed by the Department for Education is a bit of a mystery.
On the one hand, the government says that overall Portsmouth as an education authority will be £1.2m better off, and Hampshire will see a rise of about £4m. Good news, you might think. It’s said to be a fairer and more transparent way of dishing out cash to schools. Again, a step in the right direction.
However, talk to the people on the ground and a different picture emerges. Headteachers are united in their fears of what the changes could mean to their schools – and for their pupils. One secondary head says her school will be £57,000 worse off. An infants headteacher thinks she’ll have a £16,000 hole in her budget to fill. And almost everyone else quoted is expressing fears about the changes, which is certainly not a healthy state of affairs.
A report this year suggested 99 per cent of schools across the country could be worse off after the changes. Granted, it was carried out by unions and teaching associations, all of which could be said to have an axe to grind, but equally it is hard to ignore their findings, seeing as the raw data has been published – and is produced using information from the Department for Education.
So what are we to make of this? The messages from each side of the fence are so opposed that we feel more information is needed. We’d like to see the Department for Education publish for each school what the old amount of cash was for each school, and what the new amount would be.
Given that this new formula is just that – a formula – it should not be too difficult to do. Only then will we be able to see what exactly is happening, but until that point, we share the headteachers’ apprehension. It is unnerving that a ring-round of so many schools in this area produced so many fears – and we have not been selective with the comments used today; there are not dozens of unused quotes from headteachers happy about the situation. There appear to be rocky times ahead; we can only hope pupils are not affected.