Heads in the Deepings welcome schools funding reforms by Government

Head teacher Andy Fawkes and pupils at Linchfield Community Primary School, Deeping St James. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG111215-100TW. ANL-151112-185324001.
  • Lincolnshire seen as big winner as Education Secretary vows to end ‘postcode lottery’

Government plans to end the “historical postcode lottery” in school funding have been welcomed by two head teachers in the Deepings.

Government plans to end the “historical postcode lottery” in school funding have been welcomed by two head teachers in the Deepings.

Lincolnshire could be in line for an extra £4.6 million (2.3 per cent) to spend on nurseries, primary, secondary and special schools across the county following a reform of the funding system, due to take effect in 2018-19.

Education Secretary Justine Greening described reforms to its £85.2 billion education spending programme as “an end to historical unfairness and underfunding for certain schools”.

Under the reforms, more than 10,000 schools in semi-urban and rural counties such as Lincolnshire, Somerset, Devon and Derbyshire, could see an increase in education funding of up to three per cent.

Andy Fawkes, head teacher of Linchfield Community Primary School in Deeping St James, said: “Obviously, an extra 2.3 per cent would be very welcome as Lincolnshire is massively underfunded.

Richard Lord, head teacher of The Deepings School, Deeping St James. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG220916-124TW. ANL-160922-172026001.

“Anything that would help to redress the balance which sees schools in (the London Borough of) Tower Hamlets get £7,000 per child, compared to £4,000 per child here, is to be applauded.

“When I was a head in Hull, I had a budget of almost the same size as I have now, but with 120 fewer children.

“Maybe if we had the level of funding as inner city primary schools, we would get the same results as them.

“But in Lincolnshire, we have a finite resource in the form of education funding which we have to balance very carefully.”

Anything that would help to redress the balance which sees schools in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets get £7,000 per child, compared to £4,000 per child here, is to be applauded

Andy Fawkes, head teacher of Linchfield Community Primary School, Deeping St James

Based on estimates by eduation website www.schoolsweek.co.uk of how much the new National Funding Formula will either cost or benefit education authorities in England from 2018, Lincolnshire stands to again an extra 2.3 per cent a year.

This figure, ranked by the website as the seventh biggest change upwards in England, would mean an extra £4.6 million to spend on schools in Lincolnshire, based in the 2016/17 Dedicated Schools Grant figure of £497,222,269 million.

Richard Lord, head teacher of The Deepings School which became an academy in 2012, said: “It is extremely welcoming to see this issue finally being addressed as the long-term educational funding gap in Lincolnshire has been very significant.

“There is widespread recognition that the current schools’ funding system is unfair and out of date.

“In 2013, the Government promised a national funding formula that would fix historic and inequitable differences in funding between schools in different local authorities.

“Whilst disappointing that this will not benefit Lincolnshire schools until the academic year 2018/19, we will welcome the additional funding this change will clearly provide.

“Unprecedented cost pressures imposed on schools, coupled with flat-funding, have made budgets in recent years incredibly difficult to balance.

“At The Deepings School, careful and prudent financial management by staff and governors, coupled with success in our bids for capital investment, have meant that we have always maximised the funding we have available to us.

“However, this news will allow significant investment in teaching staff, resources and ultimately will help to improve educational outcomes for all students.”

Details of how schools funding would be shaken up were announced by the Government before Christmas, including moves to a “national funding formula” whereby no school will see its annual cash pot per pupils cut by more than 1.5 per cent.

Lincolnshire County Council’s last allocation of the Government’s Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) was £497.222 million in 2016/17, used to support both academies and local authority-maintained schools.

Outlining the reforms, Ms Greening said: “We need a system that funds schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than their postcode, levelling the playing field and giving parents the confidence that every child will have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.

“Our proposed reforms will mean an end to historical unfairness and underfunding for certain schools.”

Councillor Patricia Bradwell, Executive Member for Children’s Services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This is welcome news for our schools as we are one of the lowest funded authorities in the country.

“We have been campaigning for a fairer funding allocation for some years because it can’t be right that authorities in other parts of the country get more money to pass on to schools due to historical allocations.

“We were very disappointed when the new Secretary of State for Education delayed the proposed national funding formula, originally set for 2017, for another year.

“This is long overdue and we will be making our strong views known in any consultation leading up to the changes.

“A fairer funding allocation is what our schools deserve.”

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