UNISON have been conducting a survey on cuts in school funding. The survey is still open but we are publishing the latest results here.
Every week we seem to hear of new restructures, mergers and cuts in our schools - or conversion to academy status followed by reorganisation.
The latest funding formula threatens to unleash yet another wave of cuts in our schools.
A Head Teacher has even warned that Surrey schools may move to a four-day week due to the "dire financial situation" of proposed government funding cuts. David Blow, Head Teacher at The Ashcombe School in Dorking, made the comments in a letter written to Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford. It was a response to ongoing budget strains and the government's planned introduction of the new National Funding Formula to distribute money for schools.
The National Union of Teachers has claimed that the formula would lead to a funding deficit in Surrey schools of more than £37 million by 2019/20. However, the Department for Education has dismissed the figures and states Surrey would actually see a 3.1% increase in funding by 2019/20, or almost £18 million.
We decided to conduct our own survey, writing to all our members working in schools plus the school heads and business managers. Although only a snapshot of those that responded and not a scientific survey, it does make for worrying reading:
A summary of the results, with accompanying charts can be found here: School Survey Results
These are the main highlights:
- nearly 60% of respondents said there had been a restructure in their school within the last two years. Only 25% said there had not been any restructure.
- 76% of respondents who said they had had a restructure said that the reason was financial.
As a result of restructure:
- 24% said they now had greater workloads.
- 27% said morale was lower
- 15% that Stress and Health Issues had worsened
- Only 5% believe that efficiency had been improved
Nearly half of all respondents felt that things have gotten worse since restructure - including staffing numbers, educational outcomes, SEN provisions and health and safety risks. Safeguarding was also a concern with around 17% believing safeguarding risk to have increased.
Other, non-staffing cuts identified by our respondents included:
- 34% saying that resources had been cut
- 31% that equipment had been cut
- 14% buildings
- 8% heating or ventilation
- 6% transport
Only 7% of respondents said that no non-staffing cuts had been made in their school in the past 2 years.
Many of our respondents wrote about what had happened in their schools, a selection of quotes can be accessed here: Quotes
Get Surrey recently published a league table of secondary schools in the County, which can be accessed here: Schools Rankings.
Interestingly, of the top ten schools in this list - only two replied to say that had been through a restructure (one of which was a small and informal change). Out of the bottom ten schools, a majority (six) told us they had been through formal restructures in either 2015/15 or 2016/17 or both. Only one school in the bottom ten said they had not been restructured. Make of this information what you will. It is time to give schools the funding and resources they need to be able to employ, pay and train enough good quality staff and to provide quality education to our children.
There is still time to complete this survey. It should only take a few minutes. We will use any further results in the new year to highlight any further issues which come to light and to continue to campaign for fair funding for education in Surrey.