Day 124 – A Letter to Chairs of Governors

The following letter was sent on Friday 28th August by Save Middle Schools to Chairs of Governors of Lower Schools.

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F.A.O. Chairs of Governors of Lower Schools – Bedford Borough

Dear Sir/Madam,

HOW WILL YOUR SCHOOL BE AFFECTED?

During the summer break, and one week after the School Organisation Review consultation period ended, it emerged that the funding of converting 50 lower schools to primary will not after all be achieved by Council borrowing but by raiding the Dedicated Schools Grant received every year from Central Government. This may result in each school having to find 2% annual savings for potentially the next 25 years.

One can understand why our Council are considering this. The borrowing route will mean a 3.6% increase in Council Tax for 25 years. Projections for the current year suggest an overall overspend of £3million and recent budget projections (assuming no change to the school system and no remedial action taken) point to a requirement to increase Council Tax by £22 million up to the end of 2012/13. This equates to an annual increase of 7% which clearly the Council cannot justify; efficiency savings or cuts in services will be imperative.

One school governor with experience of school building projects has done his own sums on the cost of creating primaries and predicts that the total conversion cost is likely to be over £100 million and not the £60 million included in the consultation document.

Only you will know how difficult it will be to find sustainable cuts in your DSG monies of 2%, 4% 6% p.a.? Very soon, cuts in teaching assistants and equipment will be necessary; and all of this whilst governing bodies will be managing their schools through 5-10 years of unnecessary organisational change.

Many governing bodies of lower schools have supported the two tier proposal on the basis that it would provide opportunities for their own schools. However, in the light of this new information which was not available during the consultation period, your governing body should have the opportunity to reconsider its position and we hope, indeed, that you do so. As the consultation period has now ended, your only recourse now is to contact your local councillor and advise them of the consequences of such a decision for your school.

I am attaching a Press Release from Cllr Michael Headley dated August 3rd which supports our views.

Yours faithfully,

Tony Dadd
Coordinator, Save Middle Schools

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Date: Monday 3 Aug 09

Cllr Michael Headley
Press Release

Schools Budget To Be Raided For Tiers Change?

It has emerged that the Council is considering taking money from the budget for schools to pay for the change to a 2 tier education system.

They have identified a need for a possible £2.4m per year for 25 years to pay for the borrowing needed to extend lower schools into primary schools.

It had been assumed that this would have to come from the council’s general fund budget. However, just a few days after the consultation period closed it has emerged that the council are turning their attention to taking the money from the “Dedicated Schools Grant”, the vast majority of which normally goes straight to schools.

Cllr Michael Headley said “ It seems bizarre that in the name of improving standards the council is even considering cutting the money going into our local schools. Many people fear that a change of school system will be very disruptive for the education of the children caught up in it, but now we face the prospect of these very same children being short changed with cuts in the schools budget.”

“I’m not surprised that the council have at last realised that the expense of this project would be hard to find out of the council’s budget. But I’m astonished that taking it from the money destined for schools is seen as a better option.”

“No sooner has the consultation ended than we learn about this new development. We will never know if parents, schools and others would have changed their view if they had known at the time that there would have to be a 2% cut in the money going to schools to fund this change.”

“I know that superficially there may look like there are savings in closing the middle schools, but it doesn’t take long to realise that they won’t materialise. There will still be the same number of pupils needing teachers Heads and deputies at the enlarged schools will get paid more, whilst those at the middle schools will have protected salaries. Even the total floor area of all schools could well increase rather than decrease. I can see this cut in the schools’ budget ultimately resulting in a worse educational experience for the children.”

In 2009/10 the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) was £92,249,807. Additional school funding streams brings the total funding for supporting schools to £118,397,466. The £2.4m would equate to 2% of that.

ENDS

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3 Responses to Day 124 – A Letter to Chairs of Governors

  1. JamesD says:

    There comes a point in every major project where the “project” becomes more important in the eyes of its supporters than the effects or gains the project will supply. Driving through the “project” regardless of expenditure, lack of success and risk are hallmarks of bureaucrats in large organisations where they have been employed and are judged on making the “project” happen regardless of the consequences. Not only, but mainly in the public service, there is no check on the activities of these bureaucrats only a cover up for as long as is possible of the eventual outcome.
    In Bedford Borough we are seeing what in the future will no doubt be regarded as a classic case and will be taught as an example of “Human Factors and System Failure” in business and management schools. If the change to 2-Tier schooling is forced through against all the evidence, both educationally and financially, I predict that it will bring Bedford Borough down as a unitary authority, bankrupt and unable to supply statutory services. It will probably end up reabsorbed into Central Bedfordshire.
    In the meantime we can only hope that a new Mayor will not only take the evidence based decision to retain 3-tier schooling but will also make a root and branch clear out of those Council Officers who have so misled the public.

  2. A worried parent says:

    I would just like to add a point to James’s comment. Who is going to really pay if this proposed change goes through? It is not really going to be the council officers, head teachers or governors, it will be the children that are caught up in this mess. To date no one can tell or show me what plans are in place (or even acknowledge that such plans should be place)to ensure that my child’s education will not be affected in any way.

  3. […] funding for the change to two-tier is going to be taken from the Dedicated Schools Grant. Read our letter to Chairs of Governors from September […]

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