Barnet's Labour councillors have secured cross-party agreement for the council to lobby the government against cuts of around £20m to Barnet's schools arising from proposals for a new National Funding Formula.
Labour's Spokesperson for Education, Cllr Anne Hutton, highlighted the potential loss in funding in a motion to last night's Children, Education, Libraries & Safeguarding committee (14 June). The motion had been referred there for discussion by Full Council on 4 April.
Head teachers from seven Barnet schools had written to Labour councillors on 26th April setting out their concerns about funding cuts to their budgets, and the impact the new formula could have on outer-London schools.
In the letter they stated that: "All of our schools are in an unsustainable position financially. There is no slack in our budgets and projections show that our budgets going forward are unsustainable. This is without taking into account changes Barnet are making with Unified Pay for support staff in maintained schools and the government's current consultation on school funding. We would urge you to champion the case for school budgets generally but in particular the case for outer-London boroughs in the consultation on school funding - surely the areas where schools have been less well funded should be uplifted but not at the detriment of other schools."
The Conservative councillors on the committee admitted that Barnet's schools were facing potential funding cuts under the new formula, and agreed that the Leader of the Council and Chair of the Committee would lobby the Secretary of State for Education directly to set out the council's position in relation to the National Funding Formula and to advocate on behalf of all the borough's schools.
The intention behind the National Funding Formula is to end any disparity in funding between schools in different regions in order to make schools funding fairer. However, the Government have not announced additional money to pay for this and the assumption is that there will need to be some redistribution of funds between schools and regions, meaning cuts for some schools.
Figures calculated by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) including adjustments for inflation show that Barnet could lose around 8.9 per cent of schools funding, which equates to £20,940,368.32.
The move towards a National Funding Formula was announced in the Chancellor’s Spending Review statement in autumn last year, with implementation due to begin in 2017/18.
Cllr Anne Hutton said: "I am pleased the Tories acknowledged that our schools face funding cuts under the Government's proposed National Funding Formula, and that they will be lobbying the Secretary of State on behalf of all Barnet schools.
"I do feel however that they do not understand the full implications of the formula proposals as they currently stand, as they refused to accept the figures that have been calculated by the NUT, and amended my motion to remove the reference to 8.9% cuts - presumably for party political reasons.
"They also need to join us in making a strong argument for London in general, and outer-London in particular - not just Barnet - as many children in Barnet will attend schools just across the border in neighbouring boroughs, and we need to think of their education also."
"I therefore look forward to seeing a copy of the letter they plan to send the Secretary of State, to ensure that the lobbying position is strong enough."
2. The text of the motion as agreed by all parties at the CELS meeting:
"Council notes the announcement of a new National Funding Formula for schools, which is aiming to ensure a settlement fair to all pupils, schools and localities. Council notes that Barnet’s schools may, collectively, face a cut to their funding as a result - although the Department for Education have not yet confirmed proposed funding levels.
Council notes that the re-allocation of funds through the National Funding Formula could hit London the hardest, given current levels of funding when compared to other regions.
Council therefore supports efforts to make the case to government for continued investment in London’s schools, taking into account its complexities including deprivation, mobility and other local factors.
Council asks the Leader of the Council and the Chairman of the Children, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committee to write directly to the Secretary of State for Education setting out LB Barnet’s position in relation to the National Funding Formula and advocating on behalf of all the borough’s schools."
3. For more on this issue and a link to the NUT figures: http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/barnet_schools_could_lose_20m_under_national_funding_formulas
For more information contact Cllr Hutton:firstname.lastname@example.org