Phil Burton, business manager at Hallbrook Primary School, gives us his thoughts on the government funding changes that have occurred over the last year
This is a topic that every business manager and school leader could happily vent on for hours, but I have just a few words to cover the whole thing. Firstly, let’s talk about pupil premium funding and, in my opinion, the appalling decision to change the census date to calculate this.
You will know that, traditionally, the January census point would determine pupil premium funding for the future year; however, the government, in their wisdom, decided to move this to October, stating something along the lines of ‘making it easier to calculate’ (though we all know that SBMs are very capable of working with numbers, and have always managed to calculate this before).
In one of my schools this small change would have represented a 15% increase in funding to support those children most at need. I am not alone in this, with work carried out showing that there are millions of pounds, if not hundreds of millions, now not going to schools to support the children most at need. Following a recent Freedom of Information request it is reported that the DfE stated they would not release the data because it would have such a negative impact on their image – this speaks volumes to me!
Schools have also received additional funding as part of the catch-up plans which are designed to support children and ‘bring them back’ when they have ‘fallen behind’. All schools will have analysed their data to establish the best ways in which this money can be spent in order to get the greatest impact for the children. The true cost of this work far exceeds the amount we are being given, as is always the case, but we have the right people making these decisions – people who know our children.
Disappointingly, this funding is set to decrease next year – when we probably need it the most – and will be based on disadvantaged numbers, although this has still not been confirmed. A rather bizarre way of assessing the need per school, in my opinion, as those falling behind have not always been those who are traditionally disadvantaged but, rather, those who had limited access to ICT, and those whose families were trying to balance the work/schooling side of lockdown.
There are lots of other funding streams, or claims, being created for schools, but they all follow a similar pattern for me; very hard to access, not enough monetary value to do a good job, or just targeted in the wrong way.
However, what you can be assured of, is that school leaders will work with what we have to do the very best for our children!