We’re running on vapours Mav

Top Gun…hang on let me take a moment…OK. 

It’s interesting to note that Goose doesn’t actually say this often used “quote” from Top Gun. He does say; ‘We’ve got no fuel for this’, ‘We’re low on gas’ and ‘We’re on vapour’, but no matter, all four apply to current education funding. Basically, we are running our schools on such a low funding formula that we are, without doubt, all about to crash and burn.

The National Funding Formula, which has just entered consultation, has done little to reassure me that the current Government are looking to balance funding more evenly across the country. All I’m hearing from them is that I need to make cuts. Cut what? Having worked in my county, one of the lowest funded, for over 10 years, I assure you I have cut everything I can without impacting the curriculum they require me to deliver. The next round of inevitable cuts will sweep away whole subjects, experienced teachers, essential resources (aka text books), IT and that additional ‘jam’ that make school days fun.

As I said in the last blog. Yes. I know HOW to make cuts, and yes, I COULD make cuts but I’ll tell you, EFA, what I want in return… 

1. I want the funding I get per average pupil to be the same as the funding given to the average pupil in Kent, Cornwall, Cumbria and Lincolnshire (and every other authority in the land)

2. When you increase employers NI and employers pension, introduce the apprentice levy etc. etc. I want you to give me funding to pay it, not expect me to take it off the educational experience. 

3. When you make sweeping statements such as “we want all schools to be part of a MAT” I want you to stick by it even if it is unpopular. Not publicly U-turn and then cut our funding so we look like the bad guys. 

Not too much to ask I’d say. 

But back to my theme. I don’t want this blog to be all about funding for the whole year (even though that will probably the main focus of my daily working life in 2017). So I will just misquote Top Gun one last time and use it as an excuse to post a picture of the most handsome man in the universe (sorry Barry).

I’m telling you, as your wingman, 

We’re running on vapours May!

Who will rescue Education?

The Red Cross are in the news this week reporting that the NHS is at crisis point and that they are assisting in the effort to get as many people safely through the winter as possible. This makes me wonder who is going to rescue Education when it gets to its inevitable tipping point from lack of funding. 

My county is one of the worst funded in England and we had high hopes that the long promised National Funding Formula would restore some balance to the per pupil funding situation. However, the recently published consultation paper suggests that we will be financially even worst off under the initial shake up!

This doesn’t make sense. Are the powers that be planning to cut everyone back to the bone to see on what absolute minimum we can maintain an outstanding Ofsted judgement? Are they trying to push us into forming massive trusts (because that is really working for the NHS!)? Are they hoping that lack of funds will force us to find innovative ways of educating the next generation?

I’m not a teacher, I won’t try to tell anyone the most effective way of teaching the Harrys and Olivias of the current cohort, but I can tell you how to do it more cheaply – cut staff (teaching and support), increase class sizes, cut resources (especially IT), join schools together to drive up buying power (and cut staff again – mostly support this time) sell off valuable school assets (land?) and expensive to maintain old buildings and throw up something modular and cheap to run.  

There is nothing innovative about that. But does it make for an effective education? I would guess not. So I’m hoping that the NSPCC are going to be on standby in a few years time to bail us out when the capacity of schools to educate children on tuppence ha’penny a year starts to show! 

Welcome to 2017

Happy New Year! I know it’s been a good holiday when I’ve spent most of it not knowing what day it is!  As this is going to be an entirely indulgent record of 2017, I can start by wishing all readers a happy, healthy and prosperous new year and tell you that it is Sunday (I think)! 

You will understand that it is unusual for me to lose track of days. As a School Business Manager of over 14 years, l not only must have a phenomenal memory but I must also be able to dig out of my brain some of the most trivial information at a moments notice. “How much is left in my budget?” (I’m usually asked this one when I’m away from my computer and clearly doing something else), “Why is my tax more this month?” (Erm, you claimed some overtime?), “What time is lunch today?” (Isn’t lunch always at 13.10?) and, my personal favourite this one, “if a car knocks me off my bike, how long do I have to make a claim on their insurance?”(I promise you I was asked this in all seriousness while on duty in the middle of the school field)!

My brain is now so trained to retain all the information that might be needed by others during the working day that I am frequently unable to find room for all the stuff I myself would like to keep in there, such as jokes I’m told, funny and endearing events, my husbands name etc. etc. So 2017 is the year in which I write it down in the form of this blog.

My plan is to include the happy, the sad, the laughs, the challenges, the successes (and the failures), the ridiculous (which comes from working in a secondary school full of young people), and also the joy, generosity, professionalism and the incredible support that comes from working in a school. 

A bit of background is needed, I guess, in this first post. I’m the SBM of a secondary school with a sixth form in a rural town in England. Last year the school formed a MAT with a primary school, making me now also FD and a Trustee. 

Incidentally, working in education is like living in acronym city but explaining meanings is going to make for a very boring blog so you’ll just have to google it and try to keep up!

Additionally, it would be unfair for me to name names (and probably contrary to data protection) so everyone and everything is going to be wrapped up in acronyms, initials and name changes. As I said…try to keep up!

So I look forward to 2017 with interest and enthusiasm and hope you will join me along the way. Here goes…

…Oh and my husbands name is…Barry (but names have been changed to protect the innocent)