Per pupil underfunding of education in Devon

The following are a note and then a letter from Mr Page, the headmaster of Caen Primary School in Braunton, regarding significant per pupil underfunding compared to other areas of the country. He has encouraged parents to contact our MP about this issue. Our MP is Peter Heaton-Jones and his email address is Please forward this to anyone else who might be affected in Devon.

Note from Mr Page in school newsletter

I went to the Devon Association of Primary Head Teachers (DAPH) Spring briefing on Tuesday and a key message they are trying to get out, along with Devon County Council, is about school funding. A school’s budget is set by the number of pupils it has and different authorities are funded in different ways. DAPH have calculated that if Caen was just transplanted to Cornwall our budget would be over £130,000 greater, if in Westminster it would be more than £300,000 greater and if in Hackney (London) it would be more than £490,000 greater. These differences are huge and DAPH are trying to bring this to the attention of our county’s MPs. I have attached the letter that DAPH are sending out and schools are encouraging parents to write to their MPs and I have already done so as Head Teacher. We expect our schools to get our children to the same point and help all of our children to have the educational foundations to succeed and we all contribute to the funding of our schools so why shouldn’t a school in Devon have the same proportion of funding for its pupils than one in London? If you are writing to our MP (Peter Heaton-Jones) please do let me know.

Letter from Mr Page

February 2018

Dear Parent/Carer

National Funding Formula – Headteachers’ response

As you are aware, we have campaigned for much improved funding for our schools for a sustained period of time.

In September 2017 the government announced its new National Funding Formula.  Consequently, the Department for Education reduced the amount that it had originally planned to take from school budgets by £1.3 billion (2015-2020) and confirmed new formula arrangements for how schools would be funded from April 2018.

Headteachers have looked in detail at the Department for Education’s own funding information and statistics and have concluded that the new arrangements fall well short of what was promised.

The attached documentation shows how schools in Devon are being treated under the new formula.  Despite promises to the contrary, your child’s education is still worth less than that of many others.  It is acknowledged that factors such as deprivation, mean that schools should be funded differently, but the disparities that will still be in place for the next financial year 2018-19 (and beyond) are impossible to regard as being satisfactory in any way.

Some basic headlines – again using the Department for Education’s own statistics – confirm the following:

  • Pupilsin Devon will receive around £30 million less than the same number of pupils in the average funded authority, £139 million less than the same number of pupils in Westminster and £212 million less than those in Hackney.
  • Primary school example, taking a school in Exeter and comparing it with a similar sized school in similar catchment index area in Hackney the school would receive an additional £160 per pupil, on top of the £148 per pupil we have been allocated in the NFF. This excludes the London weighting.
  • Secondary school example, taking a school in North Devon and comparing it with a similar sized school in similar catchment index area in Hackney the school would receive an additional £588 per pupil. This again excludes the London weighting.

The attached fact sheet provides examples across a range of Devon secondary schools, which clearly demonstrates how your child’s education is being penalised by the proposed new formula.  The same percentage differences are also apparent in our primary and special schools.

To give an idea of how badly children in Devon schools are being funded, when compared to other areas, we can confirm that, an additional £1 million of funding can purchase the following:

  • 34 teachers at an average salary (including on costs) of £30,000
  • 63 teaching assistants at an average salary (including on costs) of £16,000
  • 2000 computers at an average cost of £500
  • 40,000 text books at an average cost of £25

Additional funding could also be spent on a range of other crucial resources and support staff in areas such as Special Educational Needs and Disability, counselling services and intervention work for students across the ability range.

For over two years, Headteachers have run a relentlessly reasonable campaign requesting a fair deal for the children in our schools.  We have absolutely no desire to see schools in other parts of the country have a reduction in their funding, but we cannot accept that the children that we educate are treated so unfairly.

At times, our resources and that of the Local Authority are so stretched that we worry about carrying out the most basic duty – that of maintaining the best possible welfare provision – to the levels to that all schools should be able to.

Some schools are even resorting to asking for parental contributions to supplement our beleaguered budgets.  This is entirely unacceptable.

Headteachers in thousands of other low funded areas of England, are all stating the same facts.  We are delighted that a cross party group of councillors from Devon are also continuing to support our campaign so clearly.  On 16th January 2018, councillors and representatives of headteachers from Devon primary and secondary schools met with MPs to highlight the issue of school funding once again. The proposed new formula is “not fit for purpose”

In November, representative Headteachers from 5,000 schools across 25 counties, petitioned the chancellor directly.  The response was both superficial and inadequate. We now need every parent to step up alongside their child’s school and insist that matters must improve.

As a first action, we need our local MPs to raise their voices publically and unequivocally once again to confirm that the new funding formula proposed by the government is simply not fit for purpose.  Their constituents must come before any party interest

Our collective work – and in particular, the sustained intervention of local MPs – was important in ensuring that some improvements were made to original proposals for the new formula.  We now need to have this work finished fairly and adequately. Maintaining the status quo is just not acceptable.

Every pupil sits the same examinations and all pupils have the right to adequate levels of funding and support so that their dreams and aspirations can be fulfilled.  It is also vital to our country’s future wellbeing and prosperity that every child is given a proper opportunity to succeed.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Page

Headteacher and on behalf of all schools in Devon

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