Dear Mr Howell
I am a local primary school governor and a father of three children (two currently in state primary education in Henley on Thames). I am writing to you as my MP to register my grave concerns at the SNFF the Government is proposing to implement, and to request your support in Parliament to prevent this.
At Trinity Church of England primary school we, the Governors, are deeply concerned about the implications of the SNFF in respect of the academic year 2017/18 and beyond.
Perhaps you are not aware that in real terms we have had our pupil funding cut from £3,300 per pupil to £2,963.47 per pupil: a little over 10% in one year. On current pupil numbers this equates to £93,555.34 in lost funding. This comes on top of the Local Authorities’ increasing inability to provide any sort of functional level of service for which we must pay due to their own cost cutting. As you may imagine this is a significant loss especially when the Head Teacher and her wonderful team of staff have just achieved “Outstanding” status from Ofsted in November 2016.
In addition to this, I understand that Henley’s state secondary school, Gillotts, has had no increase in its pupil funding now since 2010 leading to a 14% reduction in funding in real terms.
How are these type of cuts possibly justifiable, let alone considered sustainable for our schools? These schools and the quality of education they provide are the bedrock of our country’s future prosperity.
Between 1998 and 2007, productivity in Britain grew at an average of 2.25 per cent a year. Since 2008, it has stood still. It is true that similar experiences have been evident across the world, from France and Germany to the US, but the track record in Britain is worse. The productivity gap with our G7 partners has now widened to 20 per cent on average.
One thing every economist seems to agree on from the Bank of England to the World Bank: Education is the most effective way of boosting productivity. Yet Britain’s ranking in the OECD’s international education league tables has nosedived in the past decade and the impact is already all around us today. So investing in improving Education is clearly critical, yet the SNFF is slashing the vast majority of our schools’ budgets. How on earth can this be good policy?
I also ask for your opinion specifically as to:
Why successfully performing schools, such as Trinity or Gillotts, should have their funding cut by the Government to such a level that can only lead to reduced teaching capacity for their pupils, our children? No doubt some of the proposed beneficiaries under the SNFF desperately require additional funding to improve and I take no issue with that. However, it cannot be right for other schools to be penalised, and so heavily as to affect their ability to maintain let alone improve the quality of education they provide.
Against this backdrop it seems ludicrous the Government is then considering the additional funding of £300M for new free schools, grammar schools, etc. whilst cutting the funding of current successful schools. Where is any sense in that?
In summary the SNFF proposed is a very poorly thought through policy, incredibly short-sighted and will directly affect many hundreds of thousands if not millions of our children whose quality of education will determine ALL of our future.
Thank you for your time in reading this email. I look forward to hearing your position on this matter and your proposed course of action.
John Howell replied:
I am extremely grateful for Mr Potter’s letters and the similar letters I have had from others. I do so agree. The new Schools National Funding Formula does not appear to have lived up to what was promised. This is the point I made directly to the Secretary of State and which I will also be making to the Education Minister when I see him with my parliamentary neighbour Alok Sharma MP and representatives of schools. The SNFF has recently been out for consultation and I hope everyone made their views known. It closed late march and we are awaiting feedback. I have already made my views known directly. I believe in the good standards of education we have and having visited every school in the constituency I am keen to see them prosper.
John Howell OBE MP FSA
Member of Parliament for the Henley Constituency
Member of the Council of Europe
Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA