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National funding formula required

I note with interest the article on budget surpluses at grant-maintained schools, printed alongside a report on financial crisis and cuts in LEA schools (TES, February 3).

I am head of a GM school in Walsall, working with a small surplus of Pounds 21,000 for the year in question (please note that the deficit at Queen Mary's shown in your article was not for this school).

I make these observations:

Anomalies of double funding existed in the early years of grant-maintained schools, but these have largely been removed.

Even in this small local authority, a number of LEA schools were carrying huge surpluses while others were struggling to make ends meet in 1993-94.

The high level of entrepreneurial activity in GM schools brought about by the freedom we experience encourages us to raise significant sums ourselves.

Our financial management is fine-tuned to ensure value for money.

Although the surpluses attributed to GM schools in Kent and Lincolnshire, for example, sound large when aggregated, they average around Pounds 75,000 per school and this includes other income, for example sales of uniforms, school fund, sponsorship, and commercial activities. Many LEA schools will have similar sums as contingency funds.

Let us move to a point where we have a national funding formula for all pupils regardless of whether they are in LEA or GM schools and then perhaps we will be able to spend more time debating education rather than funding!

ANN DENNY

Queen Mary's High School

Upper Forster Street

Walsall

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