Funding changes could cost Hackney schools £20m
Hackney schools could lose millions under Government plans to overhaul the way it funds education.
Mayor Phillip Glanville and Deputy Mayor, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, have warned that the borough’s schools could be nearly £20m worse off over the next three years, which would have a major impact on staffing and schools’ ability to deliver a full curriculum.
Mayor Glanville has joined 24 other elected mayors and council leaders in writing a letter, calling on the Prime Minister to scrap the new funding formula, set to begin in 2018/19.
Currently, the government provides local authorities with a dedicated schools grant (DSG). Some of this money is retained for central educational spending and the rest is distributed to schools according to a locally calculated formula. Traditionally, schools in inner city areas have received greater funding per pupil, to help them address the challenges of teaching in a more deprived area.
The new funding formula aims to create more equal funding levels by removing existing funding from areas like Hackney and redistributing it. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the councils call for the new funding formula to be dropped and for extra resources to be made available to the areas currently underfunded.
There’s no doubt that adequate funding is absolutely critical to the success of a school, and Hackney is a testament to that. Just 15 years ago, we had some of the worst schools in the country, now we have some of the very best, and this short sighted funding formula threatens this incredible turn around.
A vast number of factors contributed to the achievements of Hackney’s schools, including a £500m investment in new and refurbished buildings and the Council’s role in supporting schools to improve, but none of this would have been possible or sustainable without adequate funding. The funding has had a remarkable impact on the very pupils it is intended to help and has helped to boost opportunities for them. For example, five to seven year olds who are eligible for free school meals, and those with an Education Health Care Plan, are in the top five in the country for reading, writing and maths.
These changes come at a time of great uncertainty for schools, with the return of grammar schools, the continued removal of local accountability and a clear academisation agenda. We strongly believe that every child deserves the best possible start in life, so rather than removing this funding, which has had proven results, we’re calling on the Government to adequately fund every school in the country.
Hackney schools were once some of the worst performing in the country, regularly at the bottom of league tables and not meeting the needs of the children in the borough. In the 1990s only 14% of the borough's students achieved five or more GCSE grades A to C and in primary schools 42% of lessons observed were deemed unsatisfactory.
Today, schools in Hackney are currently among the very best in the country. The borough is ranked first in England for Key Stage 1 results; that’s 5-7 year olds reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, and the borough’s 7-11 years olds are in the top five for performance at Key Stage 2. At GSCE level, the borough has ranked joint first in the country, based on Progress 8 - a new measure which looks at the progress children have made from the end of primary school to age 16 .