Saturday, June 22, 2024

Is there a funding crisis in Thurrock schools?

EDucation Funding

LAST week, every headteacher, whose school is covered by Essex County Council, wrote to their respective MPs in order to make them aware of how deeply the funding crisis is affecting their school(s).

For your information, here is an interview by our sister paper, YourHarlow where we interview the influential head of Passmores Academy, Vic Goddard and ask him to go through various aspects of the letter.

But what of Thurrock. Do the heads have similar concerns?.

The heads had a recent meeting with the portfolio holder for education, cllr James Halden.

One Head spoke to us privately. They said: “Cllr Halden made the point about Thurrock schools being net gainers through the Funding Formula because trusts would share their money between primary and secondary.

“This shows how little he knows. Secondaries used to have a huge differential in funding from primaries, highlighted when Tudor Court surpassed Hassenbrook and the Convent for pupils but still got less money.

“They see this as totally fair and correct and Thurrock has supported them in it. Any “sharing” will go the other way in form of charges for services, management and administration to the governing trust.

“We were told by Michael Gove when we became academies that it was about trusting successful schools to make independent decisions but they clearly just wanted to get rid of the Local Authorities (LAs) and now that has almost been accomplished we find that the LAs are replaced with the unelected Eastern Region’s Tim Coulson and a ragbag of so called charity trusts; increasingly the local secondary school running a few primaries.

The result is an increase of costs as the secondary head become CEO and appoints a head of school in their place.

Essentially I agree with Vic Goddard: the redistribution is a distraction from the fact that there has been no raise to meet multiple rising costs which schools cannot avoid. Effectively it is a cut and changing the system needs to be done at time when the basic allocation stays in line with costs.

“Many schools were, like us, already having as issue before this and having to dip into reserves in order to cover the budget this year. Yes we had reserves, but we could only subsidize the budget in that way for a few years before they ran out completely. There are great concerns”.

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