Day 180 – It’s the Economy Stupid!

Another issue (raised repeatedly by Alistair Burt during the past six months) has been whether BSF funding is guaranteed.

Critically, nobody will assure him that £350M will be forthcoming. More worrying, nobody knows just what may happen in the next 18 months as a new Government comes into power.

What is certain is that public finances are in a shocking state – the country is £175 Billion in debt and last week there were rumours of more “quantitative easing” by the Bank of England…another £50 Billion was mentioned, which is getting on for another £1000 of debt for every person in Britain.

Every part of the public sector is already notified of cuts from 2011. The “Golden Age” of public funding is over and schools are already looking at a 2% cut in funds, without the ball and chain of funding the lower to primary switch from their own budgets.

BSF was seen as the Golden Goose for Bedford Borough – but it won’t be laying those golden eggs for much longer and there is a very great risk that funding will be pulled or reduced in the middle of a change to two-tier.

This would be disastrous, as underfunded change in Northampton and Oxford has demonstrated. Suffolk are so worried by these events that they have curtailed their school reorganisation in the middle, leaving whole areas in limbo.

Bedford Borough needs to act prudently at this time – a move to change every school at once is too risky, aside from being too disruptive and unlikely to lead to school improvement.

It would be much better to bid for BSF funds targeted at transforming underperforming schools in disadvantaged areas and upgrading specific facilities in other areas that are in a desperate state of repair.

Evolution not Revolution


One Response to Day 180 – It’s the Economy Stupid!

  1. KDev says:

    Out of contact yesterday but wanted to say this about BSF funding for Bedford:
    They very nearly convinced me. Even after going through the 2006 “consultation” with “consultants” who had never recommended anything other than a change to 2-tier. Even these carefully selected “consultants” could not hide the damage that had been done to children’s life chances in each authority that had changed structure before 2006. They claimed that Bedfordshire was going to be different, it was going to change as fast as possible and not have sink schools with no permanent staff like all other LAs. Sorry, but I remember these words from the same council officer who is now saying that Bedford Borough is different from all other LAs because it will take a long time (5years) to change to 2-tier.
    Back to my original point, based on the evidence available in 2006 I saw that a change to 2-tier was going to be a disaster for Bedfordshire children and for its finances. But £350 million would be a huge investment in our children’s future, I was willing to put everything aside and back the change until a very wise and experienced Councillor (and Upper school governor) pointed out that the BSF money was not dependent on a change to 2-tier. We were being subject to a long term propaganda programme by officers who would do and say anything to carry out their master’s wishes.
    It remains so!

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