St Cecilia's News
St Cecilia's Catholic Primary School - March 2019
School Funding Crisis
Friday 8th March
The school needs your help to make sure we have enough funds to protect your child’s education.
Our budget settlement this year puts our school into a critical situation, to maintain our service at the same level as last year we would require an additional £160,000. We cannot find this money from simple efficiency savings. I became a Head Teacher over 22 years ago and this is the worst budget settlement I have ever seen.
I am writing to you because I need to ask you to write to or email your MP in order to lobby the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, to increase school funding as part of his 2019 Comprehensive Spending Review.
If you do not know the name of your MP, you can identify her/him by putting your postcode into this website https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ . All MPs have an e-mail address and they are obliged to respond to your concerns, so long as you are a member of their constituency and you include your address.
For most of our parents in Sutton and North Cheam, your MP is Mr Paul Scully, a long term supporter of our school, he will be glad to hear from you.
Paul Scully MP
House of Commons,
London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4837
My request is not politically motivated. I feel - alongside other Head Teachers in Sutton – that you have a right to know how little priority is being given to funding your child’s education by the government. These issues are not isolated to Sutton. They are common up and down the country. Levels of concern are so widespread amongst Head Teachers that we are working together with a united voice, linked closely to the Worth Less campaign. This is an informal community of school leaders representing 64 local authorities, thousands of schools and millions of families.
The leader of this campaign has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, on three separate occasions since September 2018. You will no doubt be dismayed that he has chosen not to respond directly and to refuse repeated requests to meet. On 13 December 2018, Head Teachers were informed by a junior civil servant: “I am afraid that, on this occasion, the Secretary of State and the Minister of State must decline your offer to meet. I hope you will understand that their time is heavily pressurised and their diaries need to be prioritised according to ministerial, Parliamentary and constituency business.” On 14 January 2019, we wrote again asking that he reconsider meeting with representative leaders. We are yet to even receive a response.
Summary of Concerns
Whilst I am happy to provide more detail to any parent who would like me to, below is a summary of the difficulties we are facing:
The National Funding Formula is new this year and is flawed. There is not enough money for the basic costs of educating our pupils. The government will not confirm whether this figure will be adjusted to recognise the fact that, as an Outer London Borough, we are required to pay our teachers and support staff on the Outer London salary scales which are higher than neighbouring Boroughs outside of London. If the government does not take this into account, then Sutton schools will be disadvantaged and shortfalls will only be able to be met by cuts to your child’s education.
Employer costs have increased dramatically. The government has announced pay rises for teachers (with massive fanfare) without any thought about how they are to be paid for. These are therefore de facto cuts, as I simply have to find these sums from other areas of my budget. The most recent increases (2018) for teachers were partly met by the government, but this support is due to end in April 2020. Furthermore, a recent two year deal for support staff increases salary costs between 4% and 16 % over two years. No additional money has been provided to deliver these increases which impact particularly where schools are supporting mental health, pastoral or SEN needs. As such, the money available to support your child is being eroded by ever increasing costs. National Insurance and pension contributions have also all increased, both for teachers and support staff. Increases announced by the government fail to cover these additional costs, meaning that the real-terms budget continues to shrink.
These additional employer costs will cost us over £100,000 this year with no support announced from Government. This includes £64,000 for the support staff pension black hole, a figure that we will have to pay for years to come, it has increased £15,000 this year.
SEN Costs. These costs are growing at such a rate that schools are having to pass on part of their budget so that the Local Authority can balance spend. This is in addition to schools being expected to fund the first part of each child’s SEN support.
Rising Costs: As you will know, the costs of running any institution – gas, electricity, IT services and maintenance of our old school building –have increased significantly and set against the problems outlined above, this is causing ongoing problems.
We feel fortunate that we are always so strongly supported by parents. But now we need your help in a different way.
We urge you to write to your MP, politely asking for the following to be considered as part of the 2019 Comprehensive Spending Review:
For the funding per pupil of £3544 to be adjusted to take into account Outer London employer costs.
For the impact of the proposed National Funding Formula to be reviewed to ensure that we can cover our costs.
For staff pay awards to be recognised within the budget allocation.
For any government recommended pay rises / National Insurance / pension costs to be fully funded.
You may also want to ask why the Secretary of State for Education is refusing to meet with the representatives of thousands of schools who represent millions of children.
I am sorry to write to you about such a difficult matter, however, if as Head Teachers we do not mobilise our communities, I fear that we will continue to be ignored.
As a result of these cuts in funding the future of your children could be jeopardised. MPs need your vote. Make your voice heard.