Parents in Warrington are being asked to take a stand against government proposals which could have a harmful effect on their children’s education.
A new funding formula, set to be introduced from April 2018, will see Warrington’s schools lose almost a quarter of a million pounds a year and the borough become one of the worst-funded in the country.
If the proposals go ahead, only nine of England’s 150 authorities will receive less than Warrington. Based on current pupil numbers, schools in the best-funded areas would receive an average of £6,775 per pupil, while those in Warrington would receive £4,306 – a difference of £2,469 per pupil. Even compared to the national average, Warrington schools stand to receive £439 less.
Now, Warrington’s parents, carers, education professionals, politicians and general public are being asked to join the fight against the proposals.
Gwyn Williams, head teacher at Lymm High School, explains:
“Every head teacher in Warrington is this week writing to parents and carers, asking them to join the fight for fairer schools funding. The situation is that serious.
“Coming on top of substantial cuts that nearly all schools have suffered in recent years, these government proposals are desperately disappointing for Warrington schools. Whilst a handful will see an increase in funding, the vast majority will not – and even those who are set to gain will remain significantly worse off than similar schools in other areas of the country. The proposed formula makes no sense at all and is patently unfair.
“Given that the greater part of school budgets relate to staffing costs, headteachers have very few options for saving money that don’t have a direct impact on the quality of provision for students. Unless the government can be persuaded to make changes, the impact on our children’s education could be very damaging.”
In 2015 the government recognised the ‘postcode lottery’ that exists across the country and promised to introduce a fairer and less complex funding system for schools. The Department for Education announced in March 2016 a single, national funding formula intended to ensure that ‘areas with the highest need will attract the most funding’.
Councillor Jean Carter, Warrington Borough Council’s executive board member for children’s services, adds:
“What the government has done is replace one postcode lottery with another. And rather than Warrington schools being rewarded for doing well, despite already receiving less than average funding, they are being penalised even more.
“It’s right that a greater emphasis is placed on factors such as deprivation and prior attainment but, London aside, the cost of running schools is broadly similar and the funding mechanism should reflect this.
“What we wanted from the government was fundamental reform. We welcomed the review and, as an area that receives a lot less than the national average, fully expected to see schools’ budgets increase under the new system.
“What we have got instead is a formula that preserves the status of the best-funded areas, that entrenches the disparity between the haves and have-nots, and that undermines government talk of supporting a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
“All Warrington’s children deserve the best start in life – this new funding formula puts that at serious risk and I urge anybody who cares as passionately as I do about education to join the fight for a fairer deal.”
The government’s formal consultation runs until 22 March. Information on fighting for fairer funding for schools is available on the council’s website at warrington.gov.uk/schoolcuts