New funding formula could boost cash for schools in Honiton and Ottery St Mary

The King's School headteacher Rob Gammon and Honiton Community College principal Glenn Smith

SCHOOLS in Honiton and Ottery St Mary look set to benefit from a new funding formula, but are still cautious about financial pressures in the years to come.

Education Secretary Justine Greening announced the new funding formula last week and the county council have calculated that schools in Devon stand to gain £7.5million more.

The initial formula announced earlier this year by the Government would have left two-thirds of the pupils in Devon’s schools worse off.

Devon County Council leader Cllr John Hart said: “We campaigned strongly against the previous formula with our schools and MPs.

“And I told Justine Greening that the old formula could not stand when I met her earlier this year.

“The Government appears to have listened to our strong and united opposition to the previous formula and also to the national campaigning work we did with the f40 group, which represents the lowest funded education areas.

“There is still some way to go but I am optimistic that our schools will see significant benefits from the new formula.

“We don’t yet know what the new national average for funding for each child will be but I suspect Devon will still be below that figure and that means we will continue to campaign.

“However, taken with the extra £16 million a year we secured for our schools in 2015, this is another big step towards ensuring that education in Devon is fairly funded.”

“There is no doubt that schools in Devon are facing tough times financially.

“They still have to find extra money for pay rises, increased National Insurance contributions and the Apprenticeship Levy amongst other pressures.”

Headteachers at The King’s School in Ottery and Honiton Community College had both been vocal in their displeasure at the previous funding formula, both going as far to say that students would’ve felt the brunt of the poor funding.

Rob Gammon, headteacher of The King’s School said: “Following the consultation on a new national funding formula last year which showed a reduction in the funding provided to The King’s School, the new funds provided by the DfE into schools is most welcome.

“The new funding will provide an additional 2.8 percent on top of our current budget for 2018-19 and a further 1.3 percent in 2019-20.

“Although this is positive news, the base funding for this year [2017-18] has meant reducing teaching and support staff in order to balance the books.

“The pressure on public sector pay increases and the call for teachers and support staff to have a well-deserved increase above the one per cent cap over recent years could result in this additional funding having negligible effect on the provision in classrooms should any additional funding not be provided to support salary increases.

“Schools across Devon have already suffered significant real terms cuts in recent years and this additional funding only goes some way to minimising the cut.

“The funding formula being proposed by the Government remains unfair due to the disproportionate weighting applied to deprivation and whilst the consultation showed a majority of respondents disagreeing with the weighting applied, the Government have retained the formula weighting.

“The ‘Funding Floor’ of three percent (maximum schools nationally can drop in funding) continues to lock in the huge inequity between geographical areas across the UK which has no sound or rational basis and negated the intent of a ‘national’ funding formula.”

Honiton principal Glenn Smith added: “I welcome the promise of greater funding but will wait to see how much fairer it is once clarity has been given, both from the DfE, on matters such as pay rises and whether they are being funded by the EFA, and the LA position on matters such as high needs funding etc – hopefully, this is not another educational El Dorado!”

Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Chard & Ilminster Reporter | After studying for his NCTJ in Bournemouth, Peter started with the paper in June 2015 on a freelance basis, now permanently based in East Devon covering community and council news.