Unfair Fair Funding;Letter

14th May 1999 at 01:00
WHETHER or not we hold political opinions about the Conservative government's decision to introduce grant-maintained schools, statistics clearly show that the highest levels of school improvement have taken place in this sector.

Most people, including the present government, would consider this situation to be ideal and so why do I find myself having to reverse much of the good which has gone on before? The answer is obvious in that the new so-called Fair Funding scheme is anything but "fair". The formula which the Government has imposed on local education authorities to calculate GM schools' budgets is obviously one of retribution.

This, coupled with the fact that my own authority has decided to retain a very high percentage of the budget for "administration costs" rather than devolve it, means that I find myself with a very serious budget deficit.

Readers may be interested to know that despite government promises that schools would receive additional support averaging 6 per cent in each of the next three years our budget has only increased in around 2.9 per cent.

My education authority actually received 5.7 per cent additional funding through the education standard spending assessment, but this has obviously not been devolved to schools even though the Green Paper made it clear that this should happen.

The two areas of my budget which have been most seriously affected concern the so-called "support services" which the LEA is meant to provide and free school meals. In the past GM schools received funding to meet the extra costs of self-governance. Last year this amounted to 6 per cent of the direct annual maintenance grant, an additional sum in excess of pound;135,000.

This year I am to receive 1 per cent which means a decrease of almost pound;115,000. This would be acceptable if I was able to ascertain what "support services" the LEA is offering.

Unfortunately, we in the GM sector feel that what is being offered is virtually worthless and that we are expected to carry on with greatly reduced budgets.

This is an impossible task and is, indeed, very "unfair".

Keith Rumblo Headteacher St George's CofE school Westwood Road Broadstairs Kent

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