Day 181 – Primary Funding

It takes massive sums of money to change an authority’s schools from three tier to two tier. Redeployment of buildings and of staff (600 redundancies are planned in Bedford Borough) takes a vast amount of resources in itself, which is perhaps why BSF programmes have been beset by bureaucratic overspend, especially on consultants’ fees – £350M, even if it does exist, may well be insufficient for the task ahead.

Where, of course, funding is practically non-existent, is in the lower-primary switch. Estimated at a maximum of £60M in the consultation document, with £30M of borrowing against future capital receipts, this is a woeful underestimate of the true cost. Remember, this is the same number of pupils being subsumed into lower schools as into upper schools, and it is intended to cost about 1/6.

The real scandal is that Bedford Borough is that any shortfall in 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 1st.

This, of course, is in addition to the national £2 Billion cut in schools’ budgets from 2011.

Schools are under enough financial pressure as it is – why would we subject them to a very uncertain future by creating potential chaos?


5 Responses to Day 181 – Primary Funding

  1. Village Parent says:

    It is clear that if our Borough Council decides to ignore the wishes and concerns of the majority of parents in North Bedfordshire and doggedly decides to continue with this nonsensical plan to change our established and much preferred three tier school system, they need to be aware of the consequences. That will ultimately affect every child, parent and teacher in our borough.

    A section of a report, by PricewaterhouseCoopers reads;
    The report, by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), found that the BSF scheme had made “significant progress” to improve its efficiency, after years of delays.
    However, it noted that rebuilding projects had led to a decline in standards in some schools as local authorities stopped spending money on maintenance for buildings that were earmarked for rebuilding or demolition.
    “As… capital maintenance declined, morale amongst pupils in some schools appeared to decrease (particularly amongst older pupils unlikely to benefit from the new school facilities),” the report’s authors said.
    This in turn led to “staff and pupils feeling that learning was not valued in their community, and ultimately to an increase in anti-social behaviour such as littering, vandalism and graffiti.”
    In one of the worst instances, a head teacher said that the school had “dropped to the bottom” in terms of exam performance, compared to an improvement in the four years prior to that.
    “We were okay when we started, but during the building period we only had 20 per cent five A* to C (grades at GCSE). In the first year of the building we dropped to the 40th percentile, then the 75th percentile in our GCSEs,” the head said.
    The report also concluded that it was too early to point to a clear link between new or refurbished school buildings and improvements in pupil attainment, though there was a clear message that the buildings alone would not raise attainment unless accompanied by other changes to how the school operated.
    One head teacher told researchers: “I have inherited staff from the old school and some are brilliant but some not so much. A good 60 per cent of staff has not changed their teaching practices. There is a long way to go to break the culture and cycles they are in. We’ve succeeded with the students but it’s harder to engage the staff.”
    Only after the building was finished, did exam performance start to rise again.

    And our wise Borough Councillors say that they have learned the mistakes of other authorities and will not undertakes a change too quickly, perhaps over a period of five years or more?

  2. Michael Headley says:

    Latest council figures just released show that the proposed amount to be spent on primary schools has halved to just £27.2m. That means for the same amount of extra pupils secondary schools will get 12.5 times more investment than primary schools. They really will be the poor relations.

    My quick calculation makes that just £375K to build 2 extra classrooms at a 1 form entry lower school. That will only really get you the 2 extra classrooms and nothing else. Looking at DCSF space guidelines I have doubts that it will meet these once you include toilets and circulation space.

    And that’s without looking at specialist teaching areas, size of the hall, staff room and refurbishment of existing buildings.

  3. JamesD says:

    The officers we now have controlling education in Bedford Borough were chosen and appointed by the late Mayor and the previous CEO for one purpose – to force 2-tier upon Bedford Borough. This was made absolutely clear in the public meetings were evidence to support 3-tier was met with “belief” that 2-tier was best. These officers claimed that “they” could succeed where no one else had done so by changing the structure with not just no loss in attainment but with a significant step improvement in attainment. No evidence – just their and the others in the Bedford education elite’s “belief”.
    Councillor Headley in a previous blog claimed that Council Officers would carry out the strategy of the Council. Beware the unelected apparatchiks of Borough Hall.

  4. KDev says:

    When will the education “elite” understand that this is all about our children and grandchildren?
    We need the best possible education system for the children in Bedford Borough. That means from 0 years to 19 years. If you spend a huge amount on Secondary but a pittance on Primary and Early Years our disadvantaged and underperforming children will carry those disadvantages through the system.
    There is a huge amount of evidence that the school structure has a very minor effect on educational attainment. Invest the maximum in what we have, waste nothing on new structures; provide the resources that every school in the Borough needs.

  5. PeterP says:

    Every day, there seems to be further confirmation (if any were needed) that this upheaval DOES NOT produce the desired result in even a medium term.

    Norfolk recently went through this process over many years and in a reasonably organised and well-funded manner. Yet they still get this kind of result:-

    The same will happen with Suffolk in the future, and that remark takes no account of the immeasurable damage caused to pupils present and future. These children who suffer in the name of “progress” and “making education fit for 21st century purpose” are the casualties, the “collateral damage”.

    Keep going.

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