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School Funding Formula changes - how much does your school get per child?

(19 Posts)
Dunlurking Thu 26-Nov-15 08:22:24

Anyone know how much their school gets? How will you be affected?

Never thought that the chancellor would be helpful to us this autumn but the announcement of a new national funding formula in 2017 may save the playing fields and the drama department, for starters!

The dcs' school is in the "bottom ten area" for average funding per child, getting just over £4200 per child. Although not a parent governor I have been involved in meetings looking at how to make savings and we were really contemplating selling the playing fields as wouldn't be able to pay staff by next summer sad. I hope we will be able to hang on in there until 2017. There are no extras in the school, no fripperies, absolutely nothing more could have been pared down except subjects - the head of Drama thought she would lose her department next year. The Music department also worried.

Anyone in the know who thinks we could run a deficit for a year somehow until the new formula comes in?

MrsUltra Thu 26-Nov-15 10:44:26

What I have seen locally to save more of the non core depts. - eg drama, is to have a carousel, whereby the DC do drama for half a term, then food tech, then DT. So keeps the depts. going atg minimal staff levels - have you done that?
Selling the playing fields would be crazy, just to plug salary gap - permanent benefit for all gone for a short term fix.

MrsUltra Thu 26-Nov-15 10:49:05

Also, look at your supply teaching costs - have seen massive waste in schools on this (I am a supply teacher) Agencies charge 200+ per day and pay the teacher about 130. Get some retired teachers to do it for pin money and you can pay them the same 123, but save 80 per day.
All the schools I go use masses of supply teachers, not for sickness which can be covered by other teachers no teaching that period, but often for things that could be better arranged eg meetings that could take place after school/ school trips which could be reduced or get TAs to accompany instead of all qualified teachers to make up the numbers.
Definitely scrutinise the supply arrangements!

Dunlurking Thu 26-Nov-15 11:05:48

Thanks Mrs Ultra. Yes lots of retired staff do supply. The cost of supply staffing is now restricting outside trips and activities like music festivals/concerts that the pupils traditionally participated in, sadly. It's affecting my dd's opportunities greatly, but ds in year 13 will have escaped it affecting his choices.

The latest talk is of a 2 week timetable, which is a carousel timetable I assume - so Art and Drama, FT etc alternate weeks for the years 7-9 pre GCSE classes. I'm hoping the playing field are off the agenda.......

catslife Thu 26-Nov-15 11:25:04

Am not a school governor now but have past experience and understand that schools cannot run deficit budgets (unless they have a surplus from a previous year which can offset this).
For most schools staffing is a major part of the budget so some cuts in staffing will need to be made. Using cover supervisors is one way of cutting supply costs. For trips not all adults need to be teachers so any DBS adult can be used - one local school uses exam invigilators (often retired teachers) alongside a minimum number of teachers.

meditrina Thu 26-Nov-15 11:47:14

It sounds as if you are going to need a big-ticket change of some sort, because fiddling about at the edges probably won't result in big enough savings.

Ideally, it would be something reversible (such as carousel time tabling).

Other things to look at would be to see if PTA would fundraise to cover costs of the concerts etc you mention, or if you can find a local business or philanthropist to sponsor. And if there is any way you can generate income from hiring out school facilities. There aren't many other ways getting more money in to schools though.

Dunlurking Thu 26-Nov-15 12:51:11

Thanks catslife and meditrina for those thoughts. Guess I was hoping nothing major needed to happen to get the school through to 2017. I know the head recently wrote that a better funding formula would solve the school's financial problems at a stroke so it is very much a short term problem now, thankfully. I wonder what we can expect in the way of an increase - what the new formula will be. Obviously some schools will go down, sadly.

Ladymuck Thu 26-Nov-15 13:23:02

All bar one of the maintained secondary schools in our London borough are in deficit, with 4 having go to the point of having to take on loans. Some are running a deficit of over GBP500k. Our KS3 AWPU is just under GBP4,000, and our KS4 AWPU is close to GBP4,300. Even academy chains cannot break even. One of the local chains who has around 50 schools said that their local secondary was the worst funded of their nationally by some way. We, together with the academy chains, MPs, council etc have all been lobbying for Fairer Funding.

In part it depends on the size of the school. 16-19 funding hasn't been protected, and local schools are looking to see how they can collaborate to save costs there. Admin staff are under target, and management posts are being trimmed. We're cutting subjects where GCSE classes are below 15. And yes, we keep on looking at the playing field too.

Have you talked to your LA at all?

talkinnpeace Thu 26-Nov-15 14:17:56

The VAT chance for 6th form colleges will add over £400,000 back into the budget at DDs college

Hamphire is at the very lowest end on funding anyway so it can only be good round here

RalphSteadmansEye Thu 26-Nov-15 15:19:41

It's good news for our part of the country which has close to the lowest funding there is (police, too, but that's a different thread !) but I still feel sorry for the schools who have been used to having it so much better than us.

admission Thu 26-Nov-15 17:26:04

Funding for schools is an emotive issue depending on where you are in the country. There is no question that a new national funding formula is necessary as there are very few people who now really know the basis of the current system - it goes back that far. It is manifestly unfair, even within the London area, where the highest funding is based.

You need to understand the mechanism for school funding, which is complicated but at a very low level, each LA is given a set amount per pupil, which is the majority of the funding - this is the bit that is totally wrong. There is then a limited number of parameters that each LA can use to distribute this total funding in a way that is agreed locally. Typically that will be a figure as a lump sum to each school and then so much per pupil with different amounts for each Key Stage plus other smaller parameters. These do differ widely across the country. The easiest comparison is therefore the per pupil figure given to the LA. Changes were made in 2015-16 to help the lowest funded authorities but for 2015-16 the highest funded LAs are City of London £8587.04 and Tower Hamlets £7006.87. The lowest funded are Poole on £4186.54 and Wokingham £4150.90.

I think that when the DfE say they will move to a new funding formula in 2017, this will be a very slow process and the chief bean counter at the DfE said very recently it may take decades to move to a completely fair funding formula because of mechanisms in the funding process that will limit the damage in those schools loosing out. It is also fair to say that the level of change is more likely to be £100 to £200 per pupil increase for most lower funded LAs with reductions of upto £1000 for higher funded authorities. It is all about how many pupils are where.

So in terms of the original questions, if you are a maintained school you can only set a deficit budget if there is an agreement with the LA as to how you are going to get back to a break even figure. If you are an academy then in theory you cannot set a deficit budget but the reality is that some are already there and the EFA who control funding to academies are insisting on plans to get out of deficit. You can also not sell your playing fields. I would also doubt on the information you have given that the new funding formula will solve all your problems.

OP I am afraid the answer is that your school is going to have to make the difficult decisions to reduce funding. I am encouraged that at least your school has realised that they have problem but both the SLT and the Governing Body now need to grasp the nettle and make cuts. The 2016-17 budget is going to be difficult for you, the 2017-18 budget is going to be a nightmare unless you make cuts now.

For Ladymuck and other secondary schools in this London borough and I can guess which one, it is time to face up to reality. You have been living on borrowed time for a number of years, which is why you have all racked up losses, the LA has not been strong enough in insisting that schools balance their books and now it is going to come home big time. That is not a nice position to be in, but I am sorry reality has to be faced up to and the days of plenty or further handouts have gone, financial rigour is now the required philosophy.

Dunlurking Thu 26-Nov-15 18:04:04

Ladymuck that sounds awful. Hope you can hang on in there as the changes work their way. admission so much useful insight there and thanks for the predictions and insight, but why does such a low funded borough as Ladymuck's have to still make changes - their position has been impossible and the changes recognise that. Aren't we talking about short term changes and then "living within their means" thereafter? I don't really understand what's been happening obviously and it sounds like you do.

Ladymuck my dd went round her whole year group persuading people to do music GCSE so that they had the minimum needed to run the class. The head of music was v pleased with her! The drama department did so well they ended up with 2 classes, but one of the DT courses/teachers took their eye off the ball on numbers and dd couldn't do it in the end.

talkinnpeace and RalphStead glad to hear there was good news for you as well.

admission are we really talking only an extra £100-200 and not even in 2017, do you think?

I've really only been on an ideas committee brainstorming solutions and not involved in taking them further so I dodn't know what the school is taking further. It is an Academy so it sounds like it can't run a deficit. I think we were told that. The playing fields thing is actually just grassland bordering the fields - so it would be new developments surrounding the playing fields and hemming them in. it would change the character of that part of the town, and the school so much sad It's not spacious even at the moment - really just the area other teams and spectators congregate during matches.

Ladymuck Thu 26-Nov-15 18:14:09

Thankfully our school is turning an in year surplus, but at a huge cost to the range and breadth of education on offer. But whilst funding will continue to fall, the fact that the principle of fairness will be restored to the formula is greatly encouraging. Whether it take a few years or not, that is what is so essential as we move forward. It has been ridiculous trying operate in a climate where the school down the road has GBP2,000 per pupil more to spend.

Where are your estimates of 100-200 per pupil coming from? The review last year provided more than that, and that review didn't involve any cuts to other LAs.

Millymollymama Thu 26-Nov-15 18:17:29

How much do your SLT earn? Academies pay huge sums around here. The big expense is obviously staff. Is the school full? What are the future stats like regarding numbers of students? Is it growing or declining?

So many Shire counties have massive budget problems and have never had the luxuries that some metropolitan schools enjoy. Mine has just announced it could be broke soon. The Govt says they have millions in reserves but lots of counties have spent that! We stopped school dinners in about 1986. Playing fields were trimmed last century to the bare minimum. Parental contributions have gone through the roof. Schools can federate to share costs. Share lessons too if transport can be worked out. It is all pretty grim though.

Millymollymama Thu 26-Nov-15 18:21:50

Also, I meant to add that our formula now gives more to schools who have greater numbers of children who have fallen behind and need intensive work to catch up (closing the gap). The grammar schools (where there are obviously none of these children) have squealed, loudly, and gone to the press. The secondary schools now have had a greater slice of the cake so they can "close the gap". You sould not fund all schools the same. Needs of the pupils should be taken into account, eg SEND, PP, Safeguarding requirements etc. It is not a level playing field out there!

lifesalongsong Thu 26-Nov-15 19:14:58

I'd say that you need to look at every cost the school incurs with fresh eyes.

Is it needed, and not just because it's always been sepnt, can you get it cheaper from a different supplier, is there anything further you can ask parents to contribute to, are there any "luxuries" that can be cut?

You'll need to be ruthless and maybe some things will be hard and unpopular but if running a deficit just isn't an option it will need to be done

Washediris Thu 26-Nov-15 19:27:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

admission Thu 26-Nov-15 21:56:33

The forecasts for the level of increase are based partially on the work of what is called the F40 group, which is most of the lowest funded LAs. This has been submitted to the DfE and I know they have looked carefully at this work. However I have no insight into what the Department are actually going to come up with as the basis for the new funding formula other than the basics of it being based on a set amount for each pupil plus add-ons. One of the add-ons will be the extra costs associated with employing staff in the London area.

The timing of this will be dictated by how much the Department deemed can be lost by a school without it having serious consequences. There is such a key in the current funding formula which is the minimum funding guarantee, which is set at -1.5%. So I suspect that is the kind of figure that can be taken off the high funded LAs each year and redistributed to the lower funded LAs. At that figure it is going to take a long time, but I know the F40 group were talking about a 3 year adjustment to get it done and finished.

I think in terms of why schools are already in deficit this is an area where I have no sympathy. I have been a governor of a school in a low funded area for more than 20 years. We have always lived within our funding and as a consequence we are currently in a good financial position. As we are also an outstanding school in a relatively deprived area I would say that anything is possible but you need to consider everything that you are spending money on and decide what is most cost effective.

One of the three basic jobs of the governing body is to ensure the finances are in order, schools that are significantly in debt the governing body have obviously not being paying sufficient attention to the job they are supposed to be doing. Listening and agreeing with the head teacher that it is impossible is simply just not acceptable. Having reworked a good few budgets for schools, with some very difficult decisions, I can only say every thing is possible but thinking in different ways is necessary, there can be no sacred cows.

Dunlurking Fri 27-Nov-15 09:11:38

Thanks admission for all that helpful background, and what sounds like hard work behind the scenes on the F40 group's submissions to the DfE. Wish we had you for our school. I am going to press the school on what is happening this year. I primed ds to ask some teachers yesterday and one hadn't even read/heard of the autumn statement announcement. Am putting my faith in the head of Drama being on the ball when he confronts her!

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