Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Motion - "School Funding Cuts"

Decision:

Resolved –

 

1.  This Council notes that as a result of the ongoing government cuts, Greenwich’s schools:

a. Will have lost an aggregate £33.6 million in overall funding between 2015-2020, equating to a loss of on average £367 per pupil.

b. Must bear the brunt of unfunded National Insurance increases.

c. Will suffer inadequate High Needs Block Funding, leaving our must vulnerable pupils without the support they need.

 

2.  Council further notes:

a. That despite the imposed Government cuts, our hardworking teachers, support staff, students and parents are doing their best to maintain our high standards.

b. That 94% of Greenwich’s schools have been rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

d. The Chancellor’s Budget announcement for £400 million for schools to spend on ‘little extras’ was a drop in the ocean compared to the £2.5 billion that has been cut since 2015. Furthermore the £400 million is a one off payment so does not deal with the long term funding crisis in schools.

e.  That free standing nurseries, which are the golden bullet for social mobility, will lose their transitional level funding after this financial year meaning most could face closure.

 

3.  Council resolves to call on Cabinet:

a. To join other councils and Greenwich’s MPs in opposing the government’s ongoing cuts to school budgets and call for more funding to be invested in education.

b. To call on the government to fully fund the pay increase for teachers that is independently recommended by the School Teachers' Review Body.

c. To support the coalition of trade unions campaigning against school cuts.

d. Support the calls of the All-Party Parliamentary group on nurseries for an extension of the level funding for maintained nursery schools for 2020/21 and beyond.

Minutes:

The Mayor noted that the motion was also supported by Councillors Adel Khaireh and Mariam Lolavar.

 

Councillor David Gardner moved the motion. He explained that the slight increase in the schools budget was offset by the increase in the number of students at schools so that in real terms the average spend per pupil in in Greenwich has reduced from £6120 per pupil to £5694 with further cuts to come the next year.  He detailed the effect of reductions on schools in the borough, and how it impacted on their ability to maintain their current level of provision unless there were proper funding for schools.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Christine Grice.

 

Councillor Matt Hartley proposed the amendment to the motion, as detailed in the published Tabled Items 3 agenda. He emphasised that it was not just about how much money was spent but the outcomes that the tax payers' money achieved, the quality of education provided, and the outcomes for pupils and students.  He said the amendment focused on what the Council itself could do

 

The amendment was seconded by Councillor Nigel Fletcher.

 

Councillor David Gardner did not accept the amendment.

 

Councillors Linda Perks, Christine Grice and Miranda Williams spoke against the amendment.  It was stated that the figures in the motion had been validated by Council officers. Personal experiences of the financial difficulties faced was described. It was noted that some teachers were having to purchase supplies out of their own money. The work of teachers and non-teaching staff was praised. It was highlighted that there was still uncertainty around the spending review. The effect of the national funding formula on Greenwich schools and the potential for schools going into deficit was emphasised, with the majority of Greenwich schools’ governors expecting to be in deficit within the next three years. All schools were struggling to make ends meet and it was not clear how they were going to be able to continue in two to three years’ time without adequate funding proposals from the government. It was noted that the school funding crisis was also impacting on Greenwich’s own commitment to social value locally in terms of procuring and commissioning local services and Greenwich’s commitment to the London living wage.

 

Councillor Nigel Fletcher joined Members in praising all the staffing in schools in the borough. He commented on what the Conservative and previous Labour Government had done with the schools budget. He said there had been a rise and increase in money but it was recognised that what had happened in the two years from 2015 was that those continuing rises did not take into account properly the increased pupil numbers, but that Government ministers were to discuss the matter. He felt improvement in results had come about not just because of the increased money but also because of structures, and that they should trust the professional judgement of heads when they make those decisions about what's best for their schools and their children.

 

In closing the debate on the amendment Councillor David Gardner commented on their focus on raising standards and the improvements that Greenwich schools had seen. He said it was important that they together with councils in London and across the country made the case on school funding cuts. He affirmed that the figures used in the motion had been validated by finance Officers. He commented that school heads were now questioning how they were going to survive in the next couple of years. He noted the increased cost of the contributions to the teachers' pension scheme and the question of how that was to be funded going forward. He explained that the Council’s finance team were helping more and more schools with their recovery plans and how to avoid budget deficits and they would continue to do that as much as they could despite the lack of funding from the Government. He challenged the idea that the Council controlled schools, it was the head and the governors who controlled the school. He confirmed that the Council would continue to support all schools. He did not feel that the amendment recognised the depth of the crisis and so called on Council to reject the amendment.

 

The Mayor put the amendment to the vote and with the minority group for and the majority group against it was not carried.

 

Councillor Matt Hartley said he was not saying money was not important only that it was not the only thing that was important. He agreed they all wanted more money going into schools but the Conservative group did not agree with the characterisation of government spending and policy in the motion.

 

Councillor David Gardner closed the debate on the motion.

 

The Mayor put the motion to the vote and with the majority group in favour and the minority group abstaining it was

 

Resolved –

 

1.  This Council notes that as a result of the ongoing government cuts, Greenwich’s schools:

a. Will have lost an aggregate £33.6 million in overall funding between 2015-2020, equating to a loss of on average £367 per pupil.

b. Must bear the brunt of unfunded National Insurance increases.

c. Will suffer inadequate High Needs Block Funding, leaving our must vulnerable pupils without the support they need.

 

2.  Council further notes:

a. That despite the imposed Government cuts, our hardworking teachers, support staff, students and parents are doing their best to maintain our high standards.

b. That 94% of Greenwich’s schools have been rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

d. The Chancellor’s Budget announcement for £400 million for schools to spend on ‘little extras’ was a drop in the ocean compared to the £2.5 billion that has been cut since 2015. Furthermore the £400 million is a one off payment so does not deal with the long term funding crisis in schools.

e.  That free standing nurseries, which are the golden bullet for social mobility, will lose their transitional level funding after this financial year meaning most could face closure.

 

3.  Council resolves to call on Cabinet:

a. To join other councils and Greenwich’s MPs in opposing the government’s ongoing cuts to school budgets and call for more funding to be invested in education.

b. To call on the government to fully fund the pay increase for teachers that is independently recommended by the School Teachers' Review Body.

c. To support the coalition of trade unions campaigning against school cuts.

d. Support the calls of the All-Party Parliamentary group on nurseries for an extension of the level funding for maintained nursery schools for 2020/21 and beyond.

Supporting documents: