Let’s make sure the David v Goliath school funding fight is not for nothing

JPCT 190314 S14120932x Tanbridge House School, Horsham. Head, Jules White -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140319-112911001

JPCT 190314 S14120932x Tanbridge House School, Horsham. Head, Jules White -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140319-112911001

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As the fight for fairer school funding continues, headteacher Jules White has put pen to paper on behalf of the Worth Less? campaign.

Representing every primary, secondary and special school executive in the county, Mr White wrote:

SUS-160310-113043001

SUS-160310-113043001

“Long before the national curriculum was a well worn educational policy, the story of David and Goliath was taught to children up and down the country.

Adults of that vintage will remember how the boy king to be – David – slew the mighty warrior – Goliath – against all the odds.

In helping to co-ordinate the Worth Less? campaign on behalf of school children, their families and schools across our county, the story that I enjoyed so much as a child has taken on renewed meaning and importance.

Never more so, than when I joined heads, parents and pupils (from Years 1 to 12) and travelled to the mighty pillars of Downing Street in order to make our case for desperately needed interim funding.

Picture courtesy of Tim Loughton MP

Picture courtesy of Tim Loughton MP

We hope that this should tide us over until the delayed new school funding formula begins to take effect in 18 months time.

The chances of success, as we faced the imposing buildings of government, seemed challenging and daunting to say the least.

Unlike David though, our group enjoyed some help on the day.

We were, for example, joined by a large number of national and local media outlets including our highly supportive local press and BBC Radio Sussex.

Our local MPs were out in force as well and their hard work in this area should be acknowledged again too. As funding decisions are made in the next few weeks, headteachers are only too aware that our school finances are dependent on their efforts and input.

And this is where the on-going David and Goliath metaphor really kicks in. You see, nobody would have remembered David if he had lost and Worth Less? will have counted for nothing unless £20million of transitional funding is secured for all West Sussex schools for the upcoming financial year.

Debates and discussions are one thing, getting the money is quite another.

As our political leaders ruminate publicly about increasing the national debt or raise concerns over ‘alarmist’ scenarios being discussed openly by headteachers, it is worth re-stating a few vital facts.

No school leader wants to do anything other than run their school or academy effectively. No school leader would even contemplate closing their school or academy early to some students if there were other better alternatives and no school leader wants to be involved in a funding campaign when their ‘day job’ is enough to be getting on with.

School leaders in West Sussex (and beyond) also have differing views on educational policy initiatives put forward by the DfE. Some support them all or in part, some do not.

What we all agree on, however, is that we cannot deliver a sustained ‘good education’ without the basic funding (and teacher supply) to enable us to deliver high quality provision to every child child in our care.

To be clear then, we feel that if £500million was available for a wholesale academy programme – that has now been scrapped – then there must be funds available for West Sussex school children.

Further, if each London borough was to have its per pupil funding reduced by just £200 per child (from £6,000 to £5,800) tens of millions would be raised.

The money could go to West Sussex and other low-funded areas without any impact on the national debt.

Incidentally, our pupils would still be funded way below even the national average of £4,600 per child.

If the will is there, the solutions don’t seem that hard to find.

David used his own tenacity and the odd sling shot or two to great effect. He probably benefited from having ‘right’ on his side too.

With public and unequivocal political support, £20million can be found and shared across West Sussex schools and academies.

Our pupils and schools should not have to keep propping up others when the cost to their own education is so great.

The time for action is now and not in the future.

Today’s children in West Sussex must get the outcomes that they deserve straightaway.

We can then all be pleased (and relieved) that our schools can function properly whilst also being safe in the knowledge that every underdog can and should have its day.”

To support the campaign, log on to Facebook.

To sign a petition calling for fairer funding, log on to Parliament website.

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