How will the proposed new funding criteria affect Leicestershire schools if it goes ahead in its current format?
Eteach reports from the latest Leicestershire Academies Group Conference at the Hilton Hotel, Leicester.
We know that the remit for the new funding scheme was to make it ‘fairer’ and to ensure all children had access to good education wherever they were in the UK. In theory this means that if the money is shared equally there should be enough for everyone. Justine Greening wants every child to attend a ‘good or better’ school and to focus on quality education leading to greater social mobility. She has also stated that schools should only become an academy if it makes an impression on improving the learning outcomes for its pupils with an emphasis on progress rather than attainment.
Yet the current plans for the new student funding agreement only map out the next 2 years. After that, no one is sure. Traditionally, Leicestershire has been a low funded county, being 4th bottom in the funding tables. Under the new plans it would see them lifted to 6th lowest! On the whole, primary schools seem to gain slightly but secondary schools lose out, with schools in socially deprived areas or rural areas taking the brunt of the cuts.
Heads have until 27th March 2017 to feedback.
School Business Managers to bid for funding
The government is asking the RSC to identify projects for school improvement within their areas and then schools will bid for the money. A School Business Manager who is experienced in submitting forms and paperwork successfully can make a massive difference to a schools budget. Their role has never been more important in these challenging times. They are pushed to the limit to find the money to pay for extra salary, pension, NI and minimum wage increases without receiving any more from the government. Feedback was that many were already doing all they could to balance the books with little or no support from the EFA. Schools are looking for help and guidance from the EFA, rather than the heavy handedness they got.
Join a MAT and take on a trainee to save money, says government
Overall it seems the small rural school with pupils of 75 or below will be pushed to academise over the next couple of years in order to survive financially. The government wants schools to continuously search for greater financial efficiencies through economies of scale and for them becoming part of a MAT seems the only way to do this.
The government’s solution to the current recruitment crisis facing schools is to place more emphasis on the Teaching schools and the SCIT training they provide. They will have to provide more places for Initial Teacher Training and at the same time provide school improvement through more staff development and training.
Collaborate to accumulate
Going forward, local authorities will be expected to work more closely with Regional Schools Commissioners to identify and target areas of improvement within schools and academies. The concept of collaboration, whether sharing good practise at curriculum level or getting better value for money through collective buying power, pervades all areas of education at the moment and is not going away any time soon.
The group conference went on to discuss subjects such as how the new pension costs affect Academy Trusts and latest news from the Regional Schools Commissioner for the Midlands and Humber, Jenny Bexton-Smith.
The majority of guests at the Leicestershire Academies Group Conference agreed with ‘the destination’ however the route being taken to get there was going to be longer, bumpier and more challenging than anyone had thought. The only way to get through was to ‘tighten your seat belt’ and make sure you had an experienced School Business Manager as your co-driver!