"A perfect Storm" : School Funding Cuts

David Barry's picture
 2
Some readers of LSN will already be familiar with FASNA - (full name Freedom and Autonomy for Schools - National Association: FASNA)

It describes itself "as the only national forum for heads, governors and business managers seeking greater autonomy". (note 1) A membership organisation and a registered charity, it is funded by membership dues. While the New Schools Network gets funds from the DfE to promote Free Schools, FASNA gets funding from the DfE to run events such as seminars and the Primary Associate Academy Programme see FASNA accounts here). FASNA have been much praised by Michael Gove (see note 2).

During the election campaign they organised a letter, published in the Daily Mail.

The Mail sub editor summed it up thus:

"80 leading headteachers warn against Labour plan to reverse reforms to give schools freedom from councils"

"In a letter to the Mail, 80 headteachers said academies benefit children but they warned that Labour is threatening to reimpose state controls.
Heads expressed alarm at Ed Miliband's comments on school reforms. Teachers signing the letter are from some of the best schools in Britain"

FASNA were so pleased at this coverage and the Mail's characterisation of their letter that they put a link to it on their website.

So it's reasonable to conclude that they are on reasonably good terms with the Government.

After the election they adopted what they call:

"FASNA’s strategy for the new Parliament elected in 2015"

They list four key priorities and say the first priority is

"Supporting schools in dealing with rising budget pressures"

They explain:

"School budgets are going to be hard pressed during the next three years at least. At best, education budgets will be maintained, however there is a continuing rise in the number of pupils in the system which will spread resources more thinly. In addition, every school faces increased staff costs as there are rises in employer’s contributions to national insurance and pensions for teachers and support staff. FASNA’s estimate is that these increased costs are in the region of 8% - 9%....

and they comment:

"FASNA believes that campaigning for increases to education funding will not be productive with the present Government and the need for continued cuts to public spending."

and they believe that this financial squeeze:

 

"will require schools to make cuts across the board, but especially to staff costs"

To help with this they are running a seminar on the 23 September entitled

"Facing The Financial Storm – Strategies for Reducing Staff Costs"

The FASNA seminar is described with commendable clarity:

"Cost pressures are rising on school budgets through increased NI contributions, increased pension contributions and an unfunded pay rise for teachers. When you factor in, for some schools, reduced funding for post-16 students it is fair to point out that there is a ‘perfect storm’ brewing around school funding and schools should not be surprised to find that a real-term reduction of perhaps 8% is on the way.

Aims of the Session

• To investigate different models to reduce staffing levels
• To examine examples from schools already doing this
• To gain information and guidance on the legalities of the redundancy process

Despite FASNA's government funding the seminar is not free, but at £250 plus VAT is at a common enough commercial rate (discount for FASNA members, refreshments and lunch included). However before my readers rush to place a last minute booking, I must disappoint you. It is fully booked already. But perhaps they will run it again in the future.

CONCLUSIONS

This a body with the ear of Ministers, well informed, and close to Government thinking....

When they predict a "perfect storm" is about to hit school funding they should be taken seriously.

A large part of the strategy they propose to deal with this is reducing staff costs, which includes making staff redundant.

NOTES

1.The relevant link for FASNA is here.

2. Janet Downs has posted about FASNA here

3. There is a really interesting article about the FASNA Heads letter and the Daily Mail story in Schools Week here

CORRECTION 22 September 2015. The original article said the FASNA seminar was on 22 September. The correct date was the 23rd. This has been put right.
Share on Twitter

Comments

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 22/09/2015 - 13:05

An organisation whose seminars are funded by the DfE mounts a seminar telling delegates they shouldn't ask for more funding (however essential that might be to those doing the asking). Instead, it will give advice on how to reduce the effect of less funding by, er, lowering staff costs by getting rid of some of them. There's a surprise!

Will FASNA advise that the pay of academy senior leaders should be cut? I suspect not.

Will it say there's a place for cheaper, inexperienced, even untrained teachers? I really couldn't say.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 22/09/2015 - 13:53

'Once upon a time……..
It was all very simple:
Local Authorities centrally managed schools'

'Governors met once a term for tea and cake
Accountability was light touch'

And then came 'freedom' because schools could become academies, open free schools even have 'freedom' forced upon them because they 'had to join a sponsored multi-academy trust'.

From a FASNA presentation.

But schools haven't been 'centrally managed' by LAs since Local Management of Schools was introduced over 25 years ago. Ofsted has been commenting on how well these tea swilling and cake munching governors fulfil their responsibilities since the early noughties, over ten years before academy conversion was made possible. And it's a funny kind of freedom that has to be forced upon organisations.

Perhaps FASNA ought to read the Academies Commission report: non-academies can do most things academies can do (and without all the extra administrative and legal responsibilities which come with academy status).


Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.