Monday, 16 January 2017

£550 million cuts to London schools can't be 'managed', they must be fought

£3 billion School Cuts even worse than unions predicted 

Following the publication of the Government’s final proposals for its long-awaited National Funding Formula (NFF), organisations representing school staff, teachers and leaders - ATL, GMB, NAHT, NUT, UNISON and Unite - have updated the www.schoolcuts.org.uk website to reflect the funding losses facing each school in England.  
The Government had accused funding campaigners of scaremongering, but the updated figures are even worse than we previously predicted.  98% of schools face a real terms reduction in funding for every pupil. 

Unlike the illustrative figures published alongside the DfE’s December 2016 school funding consultation, the website estimates are expressed in real terms per pupil, using the 2015/16 funding as the baseline. The calculations were made using the following evidence:
  • That the national funding formula due to be introduced in April 2018 will be the one that was proposed by the Secretary of State on Wednesday 14 December 2016. 
  • That inflation for schools will amount to 8.7% over the lifetime of this Parliament. This figure is taken from “Financial sustainability of schools”, as published by the National Audit Office. 
  • That the Government will cut the Education Services Grant (ESG) by 75%, as George Osborne announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement.
 
A bleak picture nationally, but especially in London
 Nine out of the ten worse-hit constituencies are in London. Every school in Justine Greening MP’s constituency of Putney will experience real terms cuts, with an average loss of £655 for every pupil.

Overall, London schools face losses of over £550 million. Southwark alone faces a 15% budget cut.


Don't underestimate the impact of these cuts
London Councils have issued an initial briefing paper on “The Future of School Funding” alerting Local Authorities to the impact of the National Funding Formula consultation on London Schools. London Councils point out: 

“With 70 per cent of London schools set to receive less money, by as much as 3 per cent, from 2018/19, there will be considerable concern amongst school leaders about how this can be managed and the possible impact on school standards. While some may argue this is a relatively small amount and schools should be able to absorb this easily, it is unlikely they will be able to do so in addition to the wider budgetary pressures highlighted recently by the National Audit Office”. 

London Councils are correct to warn about the impact but the 11 January 2017 House of Commons Report on “School Funding in England. Current system and proposals for 'fairer school funding' " makes clear that even the 3% ‘floor’ is not any kind of permanent protection from ongoing cuts:

Losses will be limited to a maximum of 1.5% per pupil in each of 2018-19 and 2019-20. This means that at some schools –the biggest ‘winners’ and ‘losers’- transitional protection will apply for some years. The full impact of the new funding formula will not be felt at these schools until this transition period is over”. 

London Councils correctly say that “The NAO’s report into the financial sustainability of schools found that schools in England face a £3 billion funding shortfall by 2020” and that “The NAO estimates that over 60% of secondary academies had a budgetary overspend in 2014/15. Therefore, even a school that will have an uplift as a result of the introduction of the NFF is likely to have an overall budgetary deficit in this financial climate”. 

The NAO report confirms that many maintained schools are also already in this vulnerable position. 59% of maintained secondary schools spent more than their income in 2014-15. 15% were already actually in deficit with the average deficit as high as £326,000.

In the six-union press release of 16 January 2017, Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, says:  “School budgets are being pushed beyond breaking point. The government's £3 billion real terms cut to education funding must be reversed or we will see education and care suffer. Already heads are being forced to cut staff, cut the curriculum and cut specialist support. A new funding formula is the right thing to do, but it cannot be truly fair unless there is enough money to go round in the first place.” 

London Councils report that: “the DfE has also committed to allocating an additional £200m in 2018-19 and 2019-20 (a total of £400m over a two year period) on top of the current value of the schools block. This money has been found to provide protections for schools facing reductions”.

However, the latest House of Commons Report points out that “The Coalition Government provided an additional £390 million in funding in 2015-16 to what it described as the least fairly funded local authorities”. So top-up funding of an additional £200m a year will have a very small effect, especially in comparison to a £3billion real terms shortfall. 

London Councils state that “Deprivation and English as an additional language (EAL) receive a relatively higher weighting than under previous methodologies, benefitting London overall”.

This echoes the DfE’s Executive Summary (para 60) stating that “London, along with other inner city areas, faces high levels of deprivation and pupils with EAL. Under our formula, schools in inner London will attract 30% more funding per pupil than the national average. This is because funding will be matched to need, and so London schools will continue to receive significant funding to help them support their pupils with additional needs”.

However, as the April 2016 ‘Long-Run Trends in School Spending in England’ report by the IFS explains “Local authorities in London have for a long time received higher levels of spending per pupil than the rest of England, with inner London receiving the highest levels. Spending per pupil in inner London is 40% higher than outside London, reflecting higher levels of social deprivation and costs in London (e.g. higher teacher salaries). However, this differential was higher in the early 1980s, at around 60%”. 

So the new factors represent a further cut in the relative funding for Inner London schools.

Invest don't cut

The DfE modelling underestimates the real effect of their cuts on schools across the country - and especially in London and other areas of higher disadvantage. The six-union backed ‘school cuts’ figures best illustrate the bleak picture facing schools. 
Cuts of this scale cannot just be 'managed' by employers and school leaders. We have seen how, for example with 'social care', such an approach leads to disaster for those needing support. Our children deserve better. That's why everyone who values education must campaign together to reverse these cuts.
If necessary, schools and Local Authorities should use their powers to set licensed deficits to protect education while fighting to demand genuinely 'fair funding' that is sufficient to meet every child's needs.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

London Weighting - Fair Funding also means Fair Pay

Teacher shortages are harming education
Schools are struggling under a crisis of low morale and high teacher turnover. That's before the proposed school funding cuts add to the pressures on staff and schools alike.

NUT leaflet from 2001
These pressures are most clearly evident in London. DfE figures from the School Workforce Census confirm that London schools already have some of the highest rates of 'teacher wastage' and temporarily filled posts. Yet it will be London schools that will be worst affected by the proposed 'fair funding' cuts, further threatening jobs, morale and pay progression. Of course, those attacks also threaten children's education.

Workload is the biggest factor - but pay is also an issue
The single biggest factor that teachers identify when they are surveyed about why they might leave teaching is, of course, workload. As just the latest confirmation of this, in the latest 2017 survey of young NUT members in London, 84% gave 'volume of workload' and wanting 'a better work/life balance' as their main reason for considering leaving the profession.

This heartfelt response is typical: "I love teaching children. It is the best part of my day, but who runs a marathon then goes to the gym and does another 6/7/8 hour workout? By the end of the school day I want/need to relax and recharge my batteries. Instead, I feel waves of anxiety as I plough through the never-ending mountain of paperwork".

However, London's young teachers also identify pay and the high cost of housing as additional reasons why they might quit their post - to leave London at least, if not the profession overall. In the previous 2016 survey of young teachers in London, 60% said that they could not see themselves still teaching in London in five years’ time. Significantly, nearly two-thirds of responses specifically pointed to the cost of living in London as the reason that they would be leaving. As one teacher put it, “Teaching, yes; in London, no. I just can’t afford to live here”.

In the latest survey, London's young teachers linked together concerns about pay, lack of pay progression and workload. As one respondent explains: "We cannot keep working like this; something has to give, and I fear it will be teacher health and well. Plus, even if we were to hit our targets, our headteacher is pretty much guaranteed to do anything she can to block us moving up the pay scale anyway". Another replied “The pay does not reflect the actual hours and all the extra time we spend working on weekends and holidays. I will not feasibly be able to move out of my parents' house, on my current pay, in my current area, before the age of 30 - if I am lucky! ".


London Weighting to match London's living costs
If London schools are to recruit and retain the teachers our children and communities need, then action has to be taken - on workload, on pay progression, on housing costs. However, there's another issue where action is needed - making sure that pay levels in London sufficiently match the higher costs of living in the capital. Or, as it used to be described, teachers' salaries should include sufficient 'London Weighting'.

Higher pay for London workers, reflecting the higher cost of living, has been a long-standing feature in the UK economy. It was formalised into a recommended London Weighting, particularly by the Pay Board Advisory Report in 1974. Recent research by Donald Hirsch for the Trust for London and Loughborough University explains how, from 1974 to 1982, the Pay Board calculated a flat rate cost compensation for Inner and Outer London. Hirsch points out that, in practice, the Pay Board calculation was only the starting-point for bargaining, with the private sector generally being able to afford to pay more than the public.

Under the Tories, and with Norman Tebbit as Employment Secretary, the Pay Board index was discontinued.  The situation was further complicated in schools because some, but not all 'Outer' London boroughs, were designated as being eligible for 'Inner London' allowances. 

Strike action won gains for London's teachers
In the 1990's, with teachers shortages growing, NUT Divisions organised for action on London Allowances, culminating in two days of strike action taken by the NUT across London in 2002.

The action definitely had an effect. The 2003 Review Body report recommended significant increases for Inner London teachers in particular, especially those on the Upper Pay Scale. The difference between UPS2 in Inner London and elsewhere was agreed as being as high as £5,943 - close to the £6,000 Allowance that the NUT had been demanding.

NUT leaflet from 2002
However, the victory didn't come without strings attached. The increased pay was delivered through the introduction of a separate salary scale for Inner London teachers. This was  later extended to separate Outer London and Fringe scales as well. The idea of a distinct 'London Weighting' payment was lost. Instead, your effective 'London Allowance' depended on your point on the applicable salary scale.

That remains true today, although of course now, even the idea of fixed salary scales is being attacked by the Tories. Nevertheless, most schools are still adopting scales where an effective 'London Weighting' can be identified. Taking the recommended joint union scales, the effective 'London Weighting' for teachers paid on the Inner and Outer London scales, compared to a teacher in England and Wales is as follows:

Effective 'London Allowances' based on joint union scales, 2017

It's worth highlighting that, as pay progression becomes harder to achieve, particularly to and along the Upper Pay Scale, the proportion of teachers being awarded these higher Inner London UPS 'allowances' is decreasing.

What are the additional costs of living in London?
Are the higher salaries paid to London's teachers - and other London workers - sufficient to compensate for the additional cost of living in the capital? Without an authoritative 'Pay Board' calculation, that question has been difficult to answer. However, Donald Hirsch's research has set out to provide an answer. 

Hirsch shows that levels of London allowances paid by a range of employers have failed to rise significantly over the last three decades. The average is between £3,000 and £4,000, matching those for teachers on Outer London scales. This is despite large increases in the cost of living in London, notably in transport costs and, above all, housing.

Data from Hirsch's Report

Hirsch concludes, through detailed calculations of additional costs and weightings to take account of the range of housing Londoners live in, by setting out a "minimum London Weighting" required to compensate low-income households for additional London costs. (Hirsch defines 'low-income' as earning less that £40K - which includes London teachers paid on the main scale).

Hirsch's calculations produce an average "minimum London Weighting" required of £7,700 for Inner London and £6,200 for Outer London. Apart from those older teachers on the Inner London Upper Pay Scale, most teachers receive far less additional pay than required to meet the added cost of living. No wonder many are looking to leave London.

NUT 2016 Conference Policy on Greater London Pay
Last year's NUT Annual Conference passed a motion that set down policy for London Pay, including:
i. It is time that teachers working in London receive a pay award that reflects the real costs of living in the third most expensive city in the world;
ii. The Inner and Outer London Teachers’ Pay Scales no longer reflect the reality of the housing and other expenses in London: it is both out of date and unfair;
iv. There should be a single “Greater London Pay Scale” that covers the whole of London that should be no lower than the current inner London Allowance
;

Recognising the particular pressures of housing costs, it also stated:
v. It is also time for action to address the cost of housing in London, which is an even greater barrier to staying in London than the rest of the cost of living; and
vi. A long term solution to the problem of ever-increasing housing costs, which is affecting teachers in many other areas as well as London, can only be delivered through an increase in the supply of affordable housing.


Additionally, the motion concluded that the NUT Executive should "Investigate what would be the best and fairest system of paying the “Greater London Pay Scale”, including the consideration of a “flat rate” payment that would apply the same additional payment to all teachers who work in London regardless of where they are on the National Pay scale".
 

Hirsch's research adds support and evidence to back up this policy.  

Fair Pay in London requires genuine Fair Funding 
Despite these facts, the funding threat to London's schools means many Heads and employers will be trying to cut pay, particularly through blocking pay progression, rather than increase it. However, that will only compound the recruitment and retention difficulties.  

That's why the NUT has been calling for needs based funding for all authorities in England and Wales, and, as part of that campaign, we must add the demand for the funding needed to pay staff London ‘allowances’ that genuinely compensate for the additional cost of living in the capital

As the joint union evidence to the Review Body last year stated, "All of us are concerned that the school funding settlements proposed by Government for the remainder of this Parliament will place insurmountable pressure on schools in terms of their ability to maintain current spending, let alone afford matters such as pay increases or other forecast increases in costs. We all believe that there needs to be an overall funding increase for schools, not just smaller real terms cuts for some schools and larger real terms cuts for others via the redistribution mechanism of a national funding formula. We believe that any pay increase must also be fully funded by Government ".

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

WARNING: School funding cuts are even worse than predicted


Today's release from the NUT Press Office, produced jointly with the ATL, is of such significance that I am posting it in full below.

The headline messages are clear:
a) School funding cuts are even worse than the NUT predicted.
b) Children in families that are ‘just about managing’ will be hit hardest as school budgets plummet.

The only additional point I would make, in my capacity as NUT London Regional Secretary, is that:
c)  As we predicted, the capital's schools will be particuarly badly hit. Everyone acknowledges that London is an educational success story - so why slash the funding that helped drive that educational success?

Fig 18. from the DfE's Schools NFF stage 2 consultation document - although DfE figs. are for 2018/19, not 2019/20 - see methodology information below
   
Today's NUT Press Release in full: 

The cuts to funding for schools in England will be worse than expected and hit hardest the children in families that are ‘just about managing’, according to the NUT and ATL.

In November 2016, the NUT and ATL predicted, when they launched the Schools Cuts website, that the Government’s long-awaited new national funding formula (NFF) would be a disaster for schools, given the real terms cuts currently being imposed. (See editor's note 1 below)


The Department for Education (DfE) said the website was ‘scaremongering’. But the predictions by NUT and ATL have proved to be less severe than the reality. Between now and 2019/20:
 
  • We predicted that overall schools’ funding would be cut by £2.5bn. Last week, the National Audit Office (NAO) said it was being cut by £3bn. 
  • We said funding would be cut for every pupil in 92% of England’s schools. On the basis of DfE figures released for the National Funding Formula (NFF) consultation, this will be the case for 98% of England’s schools.  
  • We said secondary school pupils stood to lose £365 a year over this Parliament (between 2015/16 and 2019/20), when actually it will be £477. Primary pupils will lose £339. 
These figures are based on information for 19,719 schools, whose data was published as part of the NFF consultation and included in the 2015/16 schools block allocation dataset. We have used this in combination with the NAO estimate for schools-specific inflation, which will see costs increase by 8.7% between 2015/16 and 2019/2020. (see editor's note 2 below) 


From page 15 of the NAO's Full Report

The picture keeps getting bleaker. Despite claims that the Government is addressing an ‘historic injustice’, the schools which have a high percentage of children from families who are ‘just about managing’ (JAMs) – and who are supposedly a priority for the Prime Minister – will be worse off. (see editor's note 3 below)
 

Primary pupils
  • Cut for every pupil between 2015/16 and 2019/20
  • Schools with the least number of JAMs: £297 a year
  • Schools with the most number of JAMs: £447 a year
Secondary pupils
  • Cut for every pupil between 2015/16 and 2019/20
  • Schools with the least JAMs: £489 a year
  • Schools with the most JAMs: £658 a year 

Despite the Conservative Party manifesto saying there will be a real-terms increase in the schools’ budget:
  • 87% of schools will have real terms cuts in Government funding between 2015/16 – 2019/20
  • 98% of schools will have a loss in funding for every pupil between 2015/16 – 2019/20
  • (The number of pupils is projected to rise by 8% between 2015/16 and 2019/20)

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:These are shocking figures that will create despair in schools up and down the country. Far from being the levelling up of funding that councils and heads have demanded, the Government is levelling down and schools across the country face real terms cuts in this Parliament. It is impossible to deliver an effective education to pupils if there is no money for staff, buildings, resources, materials, activities or a full subject choice. Parents and school governors should unite with teachers in demanding the Government fund our education properly. This is no way to run an education system. More money needs to be given to our schools to give the country an education system it can be proud of.”

Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said:
All the Government’s warm words about protecting the poorest children look meaningless. Many schools are already struggling to make ends meet and are desperately trying to raise money from parents for school books and IT. These funding cuts will make the situation even more desperate. If the Government doesn’t increase the overall amount of funding for schools, a generation of children will have a severely restricted education with nothing beyond the basic curriculum and thousands of school staff will lose their jobs. Parents and pupils will be furious that Government missed the opportunity with the new National Funding Formula to properly fund all schools and every child’s education.” 


Editor's notes

1) The http://www.schoolcuts.org.uk website has been updated to reflect the DfE’s newly released figures.

2) The National Funding Formula second stage consultation is available here. The accompanying data showing the impact on schools is here. The block allocation page is here and dataset here. The NAO’s inflation forecast is here (the graph posted above is on p.15).

3) The DfE published the percentage of pupils who have received free school meals at some point in the last six years as “Free School Meals Ever 6”. In the same spreadsheet they also published the number of pupils currently receiving free school meals. Our metric for JAMs at a school is the number of pupils who are currently not receiving free school meals but have done at some point in the last six years. We then put the schools in 10 groups based on the percentage of JAMs on the school register, and found funding averages for each group.


Methodology for today’s figures

We used published Department for Education data to calculate cuts to England’s primary and secondary schools over this Parliament, 2015 – 2020.


Using the 2015/16 funding as the baseline, we calculated the impact of the cash freeze on the amount of funding for each pupil, the proposed cut to the Education Services Grant and the proposed introduction of a National Funding Formula.


The calculations were made using the following evidence:

  • That the national funding formula due to be introduced in April 2018 will be that proposed by the Secretary of State on Wednesday 14 December 2016.
  • That inflation for schools will amount to 8.7% over the lifetime of this Parliament. This figure is in “Financial sustainability of schools” published by the National Audit Office on 14 December 2016.
  • That the Government will cut the Education Services Grant (ESG) by 75%, as George Osborne announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement. We have only measured the ESG cut to academy and free school budgets. For all other schools, the ESG goes to the local authority to fund services for schools. These services are now being cut.
Calculating school funding for 2019/20
The Government published figures for school budgets for the first year of the introduction of the National Funding Formula (2018/19) and when the NFF is fully bedded in. We calculated the amount of funding for schools for 2019/20, by capping the maximum increase from 2018/19 to 2019/20 at 2.5% as stated in the ministerial statement.


The figures are in 2016/17 prices.


Data sources
Schools block funding 2015-16
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/schools-block-funding-allocations-2015-to-2016

Schools block funding 2016-17
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/schools-block-funding-allocations-2016-to-2017

Schools National Funding Formula Stage 2 consultation
https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula2/

Pupil census 2014-15
https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/download-data?currentstep=datatypes&regiontype=all&la=0&downloadYear=2014-2015&datatypes=Census

Financial sustainability of schools, National Audit Office
https://www.nao.org.uk/report/financial-sustainability-in-schools/

Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year Newsletter for London Region NUT members

It's 2017 and so London NUT are ready with the New Year issue of our newsletter for NUT reps across the London Region. 

We’re letting you know about some of the latest events that you and your members might like to get involved in, as well as updating you on key campaigns.

Have you been using your legal right as a rep to take time off with pay to undertake training? If not, don’t delay - get yourself enrolled on to one of our excellent courses! Book your free place through the NUT website via https://www.teachers.org.uk/courses.


The NUT recommends school reps enrol on our 3-day foundation training. If you’ve completed that, or if you are a more experienced rep, then build your skills by booking on our 3-day advanced course. You can supplement your training with attendance on our one-day courses too.





Assessment, workload and funding cuts are all key priorities for the NUT. You can read more about them in the latest edition of ‘the Teacher’ magazine.

In 2016, 47% of pupils failed to reach the expected ‘standard’ in the KS2 tests (Reading, Writing, Mathematics). So, due to poorly constructed and difficult tests, nearly half our 11-year-olds left their primary school carrying a ‘failure’ notice. The NUT say the 2017 tests should be scrapped.


Have you been told that your arduous marking policy is necessary in case Ofsted visit? Well, writing for the Jan/Feb edition of the Teacher, Sean Harford makes clear that’s just not the case. 



The magazine also includes coverage of our London march against the cuts in November. Far from the NUT exaggerating the threat, the National Audit Office confirm school cuts by 2020 will be £3.0 billion - even worse than we predicted. Just as we also warned, the proposed National Funding Formula will also hit London schools hard. 


Get in touch for support in your school and to help build our campaigns to oppose these threats.




ACADEMY DANGER: The NUT are campaigning to oppose plans by some, such as the Westminster RC Diocese, to set up Multi Academy Trusts - and also to defend conditions for teachers working in MATs.

See a video on the latest academy toolkit here

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Funding cuts threaten your children's education

Today's announcement of the Government's plans for 'National Funding for Schools' confirmed all that the NUT and other unions have been warning now for months - the Tories are intent on savage cuts that will threaten children's education, as well as the jobs, pay and working conditions of thousands of school staff.

It's not just unions who are sounding the alarm bells. Our warnings have also been confirmed in a report by the National Audit Office explaining that schools now face having to find savings of £3 billion by 2019-20, equating to an 8 per cent real-terms reduction in funding – the worst since the mid-1990s.

The attempts by the Tories to cover up these cuts by using a new 'National Funding Formula' to redistribute spending from some areas to others should fool nobody. The vast majority of schools will still lose out overall, but some - particularly in big cities like London - will see an even greater budget cut.

Today's NUT press release explains what is at stake:

“Far from being the levelling up that some councils and heads have demanded, this is a levelling down. Even the schools currently worst funded will see real terms cuts in this Parliament.

“The Government’s proposed changes to the school funding system do not begin to address the key issue for schools, which is the Government’s imposition of the biggest real terms cuts in a generation. Funding cannot be ‘fair’ if it is not sufficient. Even those schools gaining under the new system are likely to see those gains more than offset by the real cuts to school funding overall. All the Government can offer is a programme of real terms cuts, unevenly distributed – creating new problems in some areas and failing to tackle existing problems in the remaining areas. Refusing to address the problems caused by its programme of real terms cuts means the Government refuses to engage in the proper and objective discussion we need on how to fund schools to meet their real needs.

“The NUT has told the Government that it must support any new funding formula with enough extra money to ensure real terms increases for schools, so that much needed funding increases for schools in some areas are not paid for by cuts for schools in other areas. No school can afford to lose funding without it affecting the life chances of children. That argument has been ignored.

“On its current direction of travel, the Government will cause lasting damage to our children's futures. The lack of significant new funding is jeopardising the chances of a good education for all. Government ministers should remember that children only have one chance to attend school.

“The Government’s funding policy will take money away from the vast majority of schools. Every school faces the effects of the Government's failure to increase funding per pupil in line with inflation and its decision to pile new costs on schools through higher national insurance and pension contributions. The NUT predicts that in real terms, 90% or more of schools will be worse off even after this funding ‘reform’, including many of the most deprived areas.

“The National Audit Office has today reported that Government funding policy will force schools to make cuts of £3.0 billion by 2020 - equating to an 8.0% real-terms cut in per-pupil funding - but that the DfE cannot be sure that schools can achieve such savings and has no idea of the actual cost of running schools in order to achieve the desired educational outcomes.

“Today's decision to redistribute funding without putting in the extra money needed to protect some schools against even bigger cuts shows that the Government doesn't really care about the impact of its funding policy either.” 


While the documentation released today is still being analysed by the NUT, the information already available makes clear that  Inner London will be worst hit. This table from the consultation confirms that, on top of the 8.0% cuts, Inner London schools will suffer a further 2.4% cut on average overall, taking 2016-17 budgets as the baseline. The vast majority of Inner London schools will see additional cuts on top of those applying nationally, as confirmed by the National Audit Office. However, many schools in other regions will also be hit by the Government's attempts to 'rob Peter to pay Paul' in order to disguise the attacks they are making on education right across the country.
Further analysis will follow - and so must further action if we are to defend education from these cuts.