School Business Leadership

Education Funding – My view 

In 2013 I graduated from Warwick University with an MBA. An achievement completed while working full time as a School Business Manager and Mum/StepMum to 5 children, and one of which I am immensely proud.

The reason I enjoyed my MBA so much was that I took all the taught business theories, models and practice and considered whether and how it applied to the field of Education. Of course, I was able to have some weird and “out there” ideas, swapping ‘profits’ for ‘results’ safe in the knowledge that the course was only looking for demonstration that I could apply the theory to practice.

My final dissertation, on the changing shape of secondary education with a focus on Academy conversion, suggested some likely shapes in the future, some of which are actually now being discussed more widely.

Back in the real world, I realise that approaching education as a whole field, or even on an individual academy basis, and applying business theory and models is not a very popular view. Those on the front line often want education to be altruistic, a public sector service where we are in it for love, not money, not growth and certainly not (shock, horror) profit!

It might be a controversial viewpoint but i believe that as much as teachers, education leaders and politicians will tell you that what they are offering is based on the needs of the child, it isn’t. I believe education today is based on historic inequalities, inappropriate white elephants to placate a minority and a political desire to avoid “rocking the boat”.

If education were based on the needs of the child, every single one in the UK would carry with them a set funding minimum amount (that is the same all over the country) to enable them to go to a well maintained, well run and well (centrally) funded school local to them.

In addition, specific needs of the individual child or the local demographic of the school would attract extra funding so that, for example, pupil premium income for schools to support students living in poverty or deprivation was not reliant on their parents claiming free school meals.

Before you shout me down, of course there are some exemptions, differences and fine detail to add into this idea. But please can you tell me why are we in a position when a student in one area is getting £2000 more funding than a student in an area of identical demographic? Why do we find that secondaries are losing out because they happen to be in a county with a large number of small primary schools? How is it fair that parents have to fight for SEN funding because their home is in a different county to their nearest school? And why do I find myself, in an F40 county, faced with a “fairer Funding Formula” that is going to actually reduce my per pupil funding?

We cannot keep paying historically elevated funding to schools in some areas of the UK while others are struggling to provide the basics through lack of funding. 

Of course, I realise that the required seismic shift to get us to the point where every child is equally and appropriately funded in this country seems, at the moment, to be too big a reach. It is going to take a brave political party many years of balancing change with minimum funding guarantees, and it certainly isn’t going to be a vote winner. But just “because its always been done like that” does not mean we shouldn’t try  to change, to ensure every child in the UK is given an equal and sustainable education. Otherwise we are failing them all.

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