Fair Funding for Haringey Schools

I went with a Haringey deputation to meet with Lord Hill – the Schools Minister last week. In the deputation were: Cllr Lorna Reith (Haringey Executive Member for Children’s Services), David Lammy, Tottenham MP, Peter Lewis, Director of Children’s Services at Haringey and Tony Brockman from Haringey NUT.

This was a timely plea to the Government to push our case for the outcome of the two options in the recently completed consultation on funding formulas for our schools to be the ‘Hybrid’ option. To all those locally who know how long and how hard I and the Liberal Democrats have campaigned against Labour’s long standing unfair funding to Haringey – you know how important this is.

Apart from our usual LibDem petitions and email list – we were at the school gates getting people to respond to the consultation by the then Labour Government on funding. (A consultation they had been forced into by our campaign and others around the country where the unfairness in funding was now putting schools into deficit – and denying the children in those areas the teachers they needed). And clearly – the people in Haringey responded splendidly – with something like 1500 people letting the the new government know exactly how unfair the old Labour funding formula was and how much we need that money in Haringey with all the challenges we have.  It had clearly been noted – the depth and volume of feeling from parents and teachers and all in Haringey!

In Haringey our children get £1300 less per head than neighbouring boroughs like Camden, Islington and Hackney. When I met the previous government Minister on this very outrageous inequality – even he admitted that Haringey with its £1300 diferential was the worst ‘cliffedge’ (difference between close neighbours) in the county.

Obviously – the new coalition government’s ‘pupil premium’ in the coalition agreement – where £2.5 billion will come on stream starting in the second year of government – and where the money follows the pupil with special needs or on free school meals (and which will benefit every single school in Haringey) will be a blessing. However, that will bring us in a lot of money – but equally it will bring money into those boroughs like Camden and Hackney too.

So first off I wanted to make sure that when that money comes on stream from the ‘pupil premium’ – Haringey is first in line for it! However, the meat of this meeting was about the results of the consultation on the funding formula – the funding formula that has for so long underfunded Haringey.

The ‘hybrid’ option will close some of the gap in our funding. We are £35million adrift every single year. The ‘hybrid’ option will move us half way towards closing the gap (estimate only).

We each made the case – very well I thought. And it was well-received. Lord Hill clearly got the message and the timing of this deputation was perfect as the decision is about to be made. He did seem receptive. So the case was well made – and now we have to keep everything crossed that we get our funding!

Fair Funding – consultation in next few weeks – hopefully

Tony Brockman, of Haringey NUT, had convened a meeting of education stakeholders last night – to prepare for the consultation that will finally arrive in the next few weeks on funding our children in our Haringey Schools.

I started the ‘fair funding’ campaign several years ago, when I discovered from Parliamentary figures obtained – that our children got around £750.00 per head less than each child in Islington, Camden or Hackney. Hence the campaign title – fair funding!

Since that discovery and the full on campaign – I am pleased to say that the Labour MP and Minister, David Lammy, the Labour Council Leader, teachers, governors, parents and all – are all campaigning together to get the funding formula which delivers this disparity – changed – so that our children have a fair education.

The gap is still widening – and currently our children are getting over £1100 less per head – that is equivalent to £35 million per year and could deliver over 1000 extra teachers. That would be 15 teachers more for each of our Haringey schools.

And whilst our teachers do an excellent job – and we are improving – we are not improving as fast as other comparable areas. Obviously – a thousand more teachers would enable us to zoom ahead!

So – having secured a debate in Parliament specifically on Haringey’s unfair funding, having met with Schools Minister, Vernon Coaker (and twice with predecessor Jim Knight), having raised it at Prime Minister’s Questions and several other times in the House as well as tabling countless written questions – we are now at the point of possibility.

The Government has been conducting a review into their funding formula with the help of Price Waterhouse Cooper – and they are about to go out to consultation on the options for a changed funding formula. It is complex – really complex- so complex that Haringey have had to employ KPMG to interpret the new options – and they were there last night to explain to the stakeholders what will be next.

In brief – it looks like the recommended option in the Review will deliver a 6.6% increase to Haringey schools (if the consultation supports the recommended option). That won’t deliver parity – but it will deliver another £10million per year to our schools – and is probably for the time being – the best we are going to get out of this Government.

So – assuming this is the case and the consultation goes ahead – we all have to make sure that everyone – from stakeholders, to parents, to everyone – responds to the consultation. And we need to respond early and with personal experiences – what it will mean to our children and our school.

I also suggested that all our Haringey children might like to respond to – to make sure the Government hears directly from those most affected. I’m sure our children telling the Government what they could do with an extra £1000 would clinch the case!

I am hopeful, that after what has been a huge campaign as MP for this area, we will see a narrowing of the funding gap. Set to widen even further this year to around £1200 – it is the biggest ‘cliff edge’ between neighbouring boroughs for funding disparity.

I will come back and publicise the consultation as soon as the Government puts it out for us to respond to. It is thought that will be in the next three weeks – but track record on this would indicate that it could slip. But time is of the essence.

Local MP makes case for fair schools funding to Minister on eve of consultation

Ahead of the imminent launch of a new consultation about schools funding in Haringey, Lynne Featherstone MP last week put the case of our local schools getting £1,000+ less per pupil than neighbouring boroughs directly to Schools’ Minister, Vernon Coaker.

The Hornsey and Wood Green MP, accompanied by Chair of the local Schools Forum, Tony Brockman, got confirmation from Vernon Coaker MP that the funding arrangement, where Haringey schools pay Inner London wages but get Outer London funding, has resulted in one of the country’s most unfair and largest discrepancies between neighbouring boroughs.

The Minister said that it would probably come down to two options, which would be consulted on in the very near future. One of the options, based on straight labour cost, would mean virtually no change – the other option, called the ‘hybrid option’, would see the current 20% gap between Haringey and its neighbouring boroughs reduced to 6%.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“On the eve of the launch of the consultation, it was important to bend the Minister’s ear and make the case for Haringey.

“Once the plans are firmly on the table, I will encourage all local residents to respond, so we can let the Government know just how strongly local people feel about this unfairness; so watch this space!”

Tony Brockman, Chair of Haringey’s Schools Forum, adds:

“Lynne set out Haringey’s case very clearly in Parliament and to the Minister. There is now likely to be an option in the Government’s consultation which would fund Haringey schools fairly. “