Forest Hill School Funding Levels 2010/11 - 2015/16

:information_source: parallel discussion visible only to Local Politics and Politicos members

I made a Freedom of Information request for the last five years of annual budgets including the proportion allocated to the school’s 2008 PFI contract.

Unfortunately the full budget breakdowns were not provided, but the FoI response shows the level of funding, and the proportion allocated to PFI:

(this is the full, unabridged FoI response)

I’m making further enquiries about any PFI capital repayments that are being paid by the school or local authority.

Did this match your expectation? I guess to make it useful it woukd need to be compared to another local non PFI school.

Other locals had commented that PFI made up 10% of the budget, so yes, this squares with the speculation that had been swirling.

It’s not the full picture though. I’d like to see pupil numbers, staff costs and PFI capital repayments (if any?)

Less than 10% for FM and energy costs sounds pretty decent to me. Worrying is a 5% drop in funding.

That could be down to a drop in pupil numbers?

Well the last Ofsted report from Nov 2013 shows 1,377 students with capacity for 1,535. Surely an FOI wouldn’t be needed to find the student population for this school year. In 2011 Ofsted reported 1,477

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Falling pupil numbers reduces funding levels but unfortunately doesn’t reduce PFI liabilities. It’s a toxic equation that has led to the closure of other schools:

There’s no fall in numbers there’s a massive and increasing funding reduction going on in education at the moment that is really serious. Whatever it’s like now it’s going to get a lot worse for all schools unless something changes.

I suggest you look at http://www.fairfundingforallschools.org

I think the proposed Fair Funding Formula is about changing the nationwide allocation of school funding with some underfunded schools winning, and some traditionally well-funded schools losing - but losses capped at 3%.

With due respect, they propose the following:

  • Increase investment in all schools by protecting per-pupil funding in real terms for the life of this Parliament
  • Provide the additional funding needed to implement the National Funding Formula that increases funding for maintained schools and academies in comparatively poorly funded areas of England without cutting funding per pupil for schools in any other part of the country, so that no school loses out.

It’s easy to demand more money when you’re only focussing on a single issue - unlike the government, which has to balance an overall budget.

I’ve read all that. That’s the Govt hype. You can have this crap formula or that one. The reality is that in real terms virtually all schools are losing out. Funding reducing. Costs increasing. Problem is real and will get worse.

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The government do have to balance an overall budget but they also have to decide if investing in children, in health, in older people, in public services is important. This is ideological

The consultation states:

What evidence do we have that the above is untrue? Especially given this hasn’t yet been implemented?

Read the press. Talk to school governors.

I can assure you (as a school governor who talks to other school governors) that this is real. And not just because London is ‘losing out’.

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I’m sure some individuals have doubts and suspicions, but surely we need to see the stats that show the overall level of level of funding will go down, if that’s the claim being made here?

The core budget may be protected but pupil numbers have increased massively across the country over the past 10 years. The cash is being spread much more thinly and ‘addditional budgets’ have mostly disappeared.

As I said this is only partly about the funding formula but mostly about reducing income and increasing costs.

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I suggest you submit an FOI request that asks what proportion of Lewisham schools are forecast to be in deficit during 2017/2018 and for the following 2 years. Noting that maintained schools have to submit a budget to Lewisham by the 1st May. So you may not get an answer before then.

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This wasn’t “swirling speculation”, it was based on information garnered - you’re not the only one to have requested this.

I wasn’t disparaging the theory. To be clear, I was among those speculating that FHS’s woes were rooted in Labour’s 2008 PFI contract.