In light of recent communications about school funding – both at a national level and about our school in particular - the Lady Manners School Parents’ Association hosted a discussion on this topic at their meeting on Tuesday 4 April. We are delighted that a wide range of parents attended and a variety of views existed about the best way to move forward.
The Parents’ Association are liaising with the school and have progressed some of the actions already. To aid this swift progress, we are sharing some of the issues discussed at the meeting in this message so that parents can take individual action if they wish.
One action point that has potential is to continue to lobby, both nationally and locally, about funding for education. As is the case for many public services at the moment, funding is an increasing problem. Recognising the crucial importance of public services, and in our case education, is something that we cannot afford to lose sight of because our future depends upon it.
A point for consideration at national level is that Derbyshire has received funding below the national level for many years. The proposed new national funding formula would make the situation even worse for most Derbyshire secondary schools. Questions could be asked at national level about this.
A local issue is that once funding arrives in the County it is then divided again on the basis of a formula. This formula is not favourable to Lady Manners School and so our school receives less money than the Derbyshire average, which in turn is less than the national average. Although we understand that some variation, according to local need, is inevitable, the extent of that variation seems excessive. The latest available public information (that can be viewed in the ‘Workforce and Finance’ section of the Department for Education Performance Tables) shows that Lady Manners School received just over £1,000 less per student than the average Derbyshire secondary school. Considering that most salary costs are based on national pay scales, and that items like textbooks cost the same wherever you are, this seems like too great a difference to be fair. Questions could be asked at local level about this.
Other ways to help
In reality, any beneficial changes to national or local patterns of funding distribution, if they ever happen, are likely to take a long time to take effect. Consequently, much of the discussion at the Parents’ Association meeting centred upon how help can be given in the short term. Our Parents’ Association has been very supportive of the school for a long time and a small group of dedicated parents continues to help as much as they can, including the provision of useful extra funds to support particular projects. We recognise and appreciate all of this effort. If other parents feel in a position to help the Parents’ Association then please make contact with them, or email school if you prefer - that would be really useful.
Another point of discussion was that some parents felt that although they may not have time to spare, they can contribute in other ways to the school to support our provision of resources and other services. The following were discussed:
1. £1 Plus Club
This is a way to set up a monthly donation to the Parents’ Association. It involves donating a small amount of your choosing, each month. If lots of people joined the scheme then that could help the school enormously.
An easy way to support the school directly is to go through www.thegivingmachine.co.uk before making online purchases. If you do this, the shops you buy from give a donation to the school at no cost to you. It costs nothing to the person making the purchase and you can buy the items for exactly the same price. Again, if lots of parents actively used this system then school would gain benefit, meaning that your children would benefit.
Further ideas also arose, including ways of linking fund raising to WisePay (donations are already possible through the 'General' folder). All ideas will be carefully considered. It was obvious during the meeting that some parents knew about these schemes and others did not. In consequence, we will continue to send regular messages about what is available and about anything new – in fact we have started already, with last term’s ‘News and Information’ email to parents.
Many thanks to everybody who attended the meeting, and to everybody else who wants to help us to deliver the best provision that we can for your children.