I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about school funding, on-costs and balancing the budget!
News management is an essential art if you are a political party. On the same day that Lord Nash announced at the Independent Academies Association’s autumn conference that school leaders are going to have…to cut their cloth to drive efficiencies…schools will increasingly have to do more with the same money, Tristram Hunt announced his plans for teachers to take their own version of the Hippocratic oath. Guess which one made the news headlines?
Good Headteachers trust their colleagues to manage budgets. I was lucky to work under a Headteacher who gave me total responsibility (and accountability) for spending the erstwhile Technology College budget, some £150,000 p.a. It helped me understand finances and was the best preparation I could have had for the moment when I was responsible (along with the Governing body) for the whole school budget.
Don’t leave the money to someone else, it’s too important: so said Greg Dyke to an assembly of York Headteachers a few years ago. It was wisdom I already knew through my own experience. If you want to be a Headteacher, ensure you have a great grasp of the budget and someone to manage it for you who knows what they are doing, preferably from a business background.
I work in an affluent city. York is ranked 148th out of 150 Local Authorities for education spending. We received £4,659 per student whilst the National Median for Secondary Schools with KS4 is £5,904. It is hard to balance the budget some times, especially when your recurrent capital grant was cut by 82% four years ago (from £160,000 p.a. to £28,000 p.a.) and you need to ring-fence old money as Pupil Premium funding.
What on earth are on-costs? I didn’t go into education to understand on-costs (aka National Insurance and Pension Contributions), but I know all about them now. In 2002 Gordon Brown announced a rise in employers’ National Insurance contributions. The implications for school budget were severe. The first I knew about it as a Deputy was when my Headteacher interrupted me whilst photocopying and said, You know that £19,500 you have for implementing the KS3 strategy? Well, I need it. Twelve years on I know how he feels…
I have a sense of déjà vu. The employers’ contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Fund will increase by 2.3% to 16.4% from September 2015. National Insurance Category D, the contracted out rate, is to be abolished from April 2016. This will have the effect of increasing employers’ contributions by approximately 3.4% based on the current rates. I’ll leave it to fellow Headteachers to work out what that means for them. This time around it’ll be me interrupting my Deputy Head in the photocopying room…You know that grant you’ve got for running that CPD project? Well,…
Will Education funding be properly ring-fenced come Friday 8 May? Only George and Ed know that for sure, but Lord Nash doesn’t seem to think so…Given the state of the public finances we have inherited, this government has done pretty well to protect the schools budget, but I’m afraid that whichever party wins the next election there will be further cuts in the public sector.
Austerity 2 the sequel…coming soon!