Newsletter December 2012
Welcome to our Christmas Newsletter
Welcome to the first of our new monthly enewsletters. We aim to keep in more regular contact with YOU - our members and supporters. Bringing you up to date each month - briefly - with what is happening and what we feel you need to know.
This month we are launching a new campaign on the level of local Council funding for 2013-14 and the effect this will have on small schools, many of which are unlikely to receive sufficient financial support and may face closure. In addition, John Roberts, the very effective Head of Bewcastle School, tells us about his experience of a recent Ofsted visit. If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
We welcome your views.
NASS launch our first Campaign "Fair Funding for Small Schools"
Worried Heads and governors have contacted NASS with concerns about funding for 2013-14. The DfE's strategy, now extended to 2014, reflects Ministers' policy - pro rata per pupil funding for all schools with a top-up lump sum where that would be inadequate - for example small schools, split-site schools.
The Secretary of State has announced the final details of the reform of the school revenue funding system. This confirms the arrangements to 'simplify the local funding system for 2013-14' and the new approach to high needs funding is to 'help improve transparency, quality and choice for young people and their families'.
The DfE guidance, last updated on 5th December 2012, confirms the arrangements for 2013-14, including these comments :
- We will not set a minimum threshold for the basic entitlement or pupil-led funding for the first year.
- We consulted on where, within a range of £100,000 to £150,000, we should set a maximum cap for the lump sum. In order to give local authorities maximum flexibility this first year, we are setting the cap, above this range, at £200,000. We believe that this is sufficient to cover the fixed costs of a small school. That is the purpose of the lump sum
But......most important, the DfE has said that no school of any description should face a cut of more than 1.5% of what it previously received.
NASS has consulted members and others to discover that the range of Local Authority figures so far runs from a mere £42,500 in Worcestershire to £190,000 in Hampshire. Warwickshire claims its proposed provision leaves schools under 100 unviable - i.e. financially unviable and so under risk of closure. Nationally that puts every small school at risk from what is a new postcode lottery with a school in one county of a similar size to one in another county but up to £150,000 or more worse off.
Please help promote our Fair Funding for Small Schools campaign. Schools are already protesting - via local MPs - David Laws, the Schools Minister. Contact your political representatives and keep us informed of what is happening in your Council.
Inspection: The Rural Perspective
John Roberts, the very effective Head of Bewcastle School, writes of a recent Ofsted visit:
There are beauties and difficulties about working in a small rural school. On the plus side you can get free range eggs and local honey delivered to you on a regular basis, on the down side you can get stuck in a snow drift with a burst boiler and frozen breath with no help on the horizon - which is being blasted by blizzards.
Isolation can bring joy in bucket loads but also limit the range of experiences you can plan for children. The first trick is to tip the balance towards the sunny side of the fell and meander with the children in the important years of discovery. Children appreciate this. One young man, now age 16, was asked about his primary school (ours) and he replied with a farming analogy - "Well you know you have battery chickens and free range chickens. At Bewcastle, we were all free range." That statement sums us up better than any Ofsted category.
The second trick is how to convince the inspectors that we are doing something worthwhile!
Happy Christmas to you all!
If you have any contributions for our newsletter please email us or write to us at:
National Association for Small Schools
'Quarrenden' - Upper Red Cross Road,
Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG8 9BD
Tel: 0845 2235029