Thursday, 20 April 2017

"Is your child's school about to start charging you as government funding dries up?"

From The Manchester Evening News (the first article that came up on Google):

The government is proposing to change its funding formula to individual schools.

It means schools in Manchester will stand to lose £10m a year under the move, more than anywhere else outside London, with funding for schools cut by 2.7 per cent overall...

One of the schools facing ‘financial crisis’ in Greater Manchester is King David High School - one of the region’s’s most successful state schools. Joshua Rowe, chair of governors at King David, says his school is going to be one of the worst hit by the government’s ‘savage’ budget cuts.

Mr Rowe claims his school’s annual income has dropped by approximately £1m in the last four years - posing an ‘existential threat’ to the Jewish high school. He says they have lost £700,000 in government cuts, £250,000 through inflation and are now having to pick up the £120,000 SEN budget, which was previously covered by the council.

Now the state-funded Jewish faith school in Crumpsall has been told it can expect further funding cuts in the next two years and has now launched a huge fundraising campaign, although has stopped short of asking families for payments.

To be honest, why shouldn't councils charge extra fees for places at the best schools? They can transfer that money to the other schools in the area (underperforming or in poorer areas) to try and level things up a bit.

As we know, if you don't make parents pay directly for a place at a good state school, they will pay indirectly via higher house prices in the catchment area.

This also ties in nicely with the idea of education vouchers, where the taxpayer pays a basic minimum figure (maybe £5,000 for a primary place and £8,000 for a secondary place?) and parents pay the difference. Local education authorities just then have to redistribute the extra money somehow, for example by reducing the value of the vouchers for schools with very high extra fees or something.

Land Value Tax is usually the best way of collecting community generated land value, but if the value relates to a specific service that is only used by a small part of the population at any time, then why not do it directly with user charges? They can bump up the user charge until there simply is no measurable difference in house prices between homes just inside and just outside the catchment area.

For sure, this prices lower income families out of good schools, but the land market does that anyway. A canny good school will always have some free places for poor-but-clever children to bump up their grade averages (which is how I got a free place at a private grammar school, seemed to me like a good deal for both parties). There's not even such a thing as a Poor Widow In A Mansion With School Age Children :-)


James Higham said...

As we know, if you don't make parents pay directly for a place at a good state school, they will pay indirectly via higher house prices in the catchment area.

Or both together through sheer greed.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JH, you can;t fault wealthy parents for wanting to give their kids a head start and/or wanting to keep up with the Joneses, it's only natural.

So harness that urge and use it as a source of education funding. Like Corbyn's mad "VAT on private fees to pay for school lunches" idea only much better.