Barnet Tories support cuts to schools' funding as "fair" in government consultation response

  • Labour councillors vote to reject any cut to schools' funding

Barnet's Conservative councillors have accepted potentially devastating funding cuts to Barnet schools in their response to a government consultation on the new National Funding Formula.

The draft consultation response presented to last night's Children, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding (CELS) Committee (21 Feb) did not argue for schools' funding to be levelled-up to ensure no school loses out. Currently there is a £250m funding gap for schools in England in the national funding formula, with many Barnet schools set to lose funding. Labour councillors moved an amendment to the consultation response asking for the Government to put back the £250m into the schools funding budget, but the Conservative councillors on the committee voted against this.

The Conservative Chair of the committee then used his casting vote to stop the report being classed as a 'key decision' and prevented it from being referred up to Full Council for further discussion.

Labour councillors did get agreement for the consultation response to include details of the rising costs that schools are facing - an issue that 29 Barnet schools have already written to the Secretary of State about saying "On a per student basis funding is not increasing. Costs are."

The letter from the schools went on to say: "We are not replacing staff who leave, cutting teaching and support provision, reducing spending on text books, and we will inevitably have to consider passing some of our costs onto parents. All of this is happening now, before these further savings have to be made. It is our growing view that we can continue to make savings or we can continue to provide a better education. It is unrealistic to ask for both.

"There is, potentially, a very serious funding issue coming to the fore, which could damage the education of students."

Labour councillors agreed with an amendment detailing the equalities impact that the National Funding Formula would have for small faith schools with only one form of entry who will also be hit hard by the funding changes.

The National Funding Formula, cash freeze on per pupil funding and 75 per cent reduction in the Education Services Grant could result in Barnet schools losing £23,181,571 by 2020.

Labour councillors publicised the estimated impact this might have on each Barnet school in a motion at the 31 January Full Council meeting.

Labour's Education Spokesperson, Cllr Anne Hutton said: "At a time when we should all be standing up and fighting for local schools, the Barnet Tories have just rolled over and supported these cuts - they are sitting on their hands and doing nothing.

"Schools have made it very clear that they cannot absorb these cuts, and that the funding situation could damage children's education, so for the Tories to paint the funding proposals as fair is completely reckless.

"We asked them to support proper funding for Barnet schools, but they voted to support the Tory Government rather than our schools and our children. "

Ends.

Notes:
1. A copy of the CELS committee report on the National Funding Formula can be found here (Agenda Item 9):

3. Details of the proposed amendments to the NFF consultation response (Appendix B):
Question 1
Add that £250 million be added to the funding for schools to enable leveling up so schools do not lose this part of their funding.
[Amendment opposed by the Conservative councillors]

Question 14 
Add that schools are facing extra pressures due to items such as  changes to pension and National Insurance payments, pay rises and cuts to funding such as the Education Services Grant.
[Amendment agreed]

Question 18
Include that there will be an impact on equalities, as one form entry schools will be particularly badly hit and a high proportion of these are faith schools.
[Amendment agreed]

4. A copy of Cllr Hutton's January Full Council motion together with the breakdown of the estimated impact of funding changes on each Barnet school can be found here: 

For more information contact Cllr Anne Hutton: cllr.a.hutton@barnet.gov.uk
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568
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