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DfE agrees to cut BCP school budgets below minimum per pupil levels

BCP Council voted in favour of the cut at February’s full council meeting, pending approval from the Secretary of State, which has now been granted

DfE agrees to cut BCP school budgets below minimum per pupil levels
By: Rachel Filmer  | 

The Department for Education has approved funding cuts that will take some schools in Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole below their minimum per pupil funding level (MPPFL), according to an email from BCP’s Director of Children's Services Cathi Hadley.

This is in direct conflict with DfE guidance, and threatens every school’s ability to meet the needs of their pupils. Some schools state this disproportionate hit will put the education of all pupils in affected schools at significant risk.

At the full council meeting on 20th February, councillors voted to divert 0.5% of the Dedicated Schools Grant from mainstream schools to higher needs funding. Concerns were raised that this would take some schools below the minimum per pupil funding level, an agreed minimum that’s needed to ensure every child can properly access suitable education.

If BCP does sign a Safety Valve agreement, mainstream schools will also be expected to support more children with SEND, with fewer EHCPs being issued.

In October, an error in calculating schools funding meant that schools have already been given £50 less per pupil for 24/25 than expected.

Agreement from the DfE to disapply the minimum per pupil funding level crosses a line that will have significant consequences for our schools and children. Several sources have told us that they are devastated and deeply concerned by the decision, particularly at a time when real-terms funding cuts are hitting schools locally and nationwide.

Schools were also given a briefing on Safety Valve this week, which failed to mention the risks identified by BCP: that targets may not be met, that they will be subject to more tribunals and judicial review, and that the reduction of services will cause reputational damage. The presentation states that independent and non-maintained schools are the key driver of costs, but fails to mention the ongoing cuts to early support and therapies which have increased the need for statutory plans, or the lack of maintained specialist or resource base places.

If you work for a school and wish to talk to us anonymously about your concerns and experiences, please get in touch.