News - School Funding Pressures at Epiphany School

NEW - Monday, 10th July 2017

NEW - Monday, 10th July 2017

Email Reply from Neil Goddard, Service Director, Community Learning and Commissioning, Bournemouth Council
4th July 2017
RE: Epiphany School

Dear Cllr Rey

Thank you for your e-mail.

I think there are two separate aspects to this issue, national funding levels for schools and local decision making on how available resources are allocated. At a national level, there has been much publicity around the level of funding the Government has made available for schools. Whilst this has increased, and is now at its highest ever level, some head teachers would say that this has not kept pace with increasing costs and demands on school's finances. The government is proposing to bring in a national funding formula that will redistribute resources across the country, but not bring in any additional funding. Most schools in Bournemouth, including Epiphany, would benefit somewhat from this but the timescale for implementation remains unclear. Calls for additional funding to be made available to schools continue but compete against other pressures such as the NHS and social care.

At a local level, the funding received by Bournemouth for schools is distributed using the locally agreed formula. This is overseen by the School's Forum a group of head teachers, including the head of Epiphany, and other stakeholders. The Council facilitates this meeting but is not a member and the formula is a product of the decisions this group makes about funding.

The most significant issue faced by Bournemouth in relation to School's funding relates to the support of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The level of funding received from government to meet these costs is not linked to pupil numbers or acuity of need and so in Bournemouth, where pupil numbers have significantly increased along with the level of needs being met, this has created a budget pressure. Working with School’s Forum the Council continues to identify ways to reduce costs whilst meeting the needs of all pupils. However, where the ongoing pressure leads to an overspend this is offset against the budget available to fund schools in the following year. The only alternative to this would be for the Council to meet this shortfall from general funds which in the current financial situation is not possible.

The impact of this has been to reduce the funds allocated to every school in Bournemouth to the minimum level, as defined by government, in order to support increasing SEN costs. This has created further financial pressures for all schools which they are having to deal with creatively. The Council understands the pressures schools face and is committed to working in partnership with them to ensure that pupils needs are met as effectively as possible within available resources.

The funding of schools and the support of children with SEN is therefore a partnership between the Council, schools and other stakeholders. The resources available are finite and determined nationally. As partners we continue to work together to meet all pupils needs as equitably and efficiently as possible whilst accepting that funding is always going to be limited.

Kind regards,
Neil Goddard, Service Director, Community Learning and Commissioning, Bournemouth Council

Email from Councillor Anne Rey
3rd July 2017
Epiphany School

Dear All

As ward members we are receiving lots of letters/e-mails about the reduced funding for Epiphany School after all of the parents received a letter from the Head Teacher Dave Simpson and attended a public meeting with the parents.

I have e-mailed officers and have asked for a reply to all of the concerns and to re examine the budgets.

There is a £150.000 reduction in staff costs which has been seen over the last 5 years and the school has also seen an increase in the number of Education and Health Care Plans which are not fully funded by the Local Authority or national Government requiring a further £80,000 to be allocated from the school’s existing budget.

Epiphany School has been unable to appoint experienced teachers because they are too expensive to employ.

There have been redundancies and in the future the school may need to look at reducing the number of teachers or possibly closing early on a Friday.

This action will inevitably lead to a drop in the high standards of the school sets and it’s possible the pupil's learning needs will not be met by the school.

Our children are our future so I am asking that can we please re look at the funding for this school?

Many thanks,
Councillor Anne Rey