New Government funding plans: Jackpot or blow for schools?
Head teachers in Bath are digesting Government plans to assess deprivation under new funding proposals, which will see some schools losing or gaining more than £100,000 in the next few years.
Next year the Department for Education (DfE) will bring in changes to the national school funding formula it claims will make the system much fairer and more transparent.
Head teachers in Bath have campaigned for decades for a better system governing how schools are allocated money.
Bath and north east Somerset has seen itself sit consistently near the bottom of the funding table, at one time coming 149th out of 150 local authorities, with claims that the area's relative wealth has masked pockets of poverty.
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Head teachers have been consulted over B&NES Council's interpretation of the Government guidelines, with some expressing concern at the way in which deprivation will be assessed.
The authority's cabinet is due to consider the feedback at its meeting next Wednesday.
The Government is proposing seven per cent of the amount schools receive should be allocated based on the number of children considered deprived – up from the current five per cent.
Some schools in the district claim that considering the number of children who are entitled to a free school meal (FSM) is a better indicator of deprivation than the IDACI index which has so far been used in the new regime, and which calculates deprivation by looking at a wider range of issues.
Pete Mountstephen, from the B&NES Schools Forum, who is head teacher at St Stephen's Primary School, said the relatively minor cuts to most individual schools' budgets were collateral they had to accept for the greater good.
His own school is set to lose £9,902 of its funding between 2013 and 2018 and he said: "The difficulty is there are winners and losers. The problem is a generic problem across local authorities and I don't see a solution.
"In my opinion B&NES Council has dealt with this in an extremely professional and responsible way and has been seeking to minimise turbulence by guaranteeing a maximum funding loss by securing a cap. This means that the winners and losers are relatively small sums of money."
A spokesman from the DfE said the new system would mean money would be given to schools directly, rather than through a local authority, and there would be a much simpler formula when funding was being allocated.
Mr Mountstephen said teachers' jobs could be on the line at schools which lost the greatest amount of funding. He said: "Across the vast majority of schools if there is a significant reduction in funding then the only place you are going to find that is in existing salaries."