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Welcome to our February 2014 Newsletter

Small Schools Week June 23rd to 27th 2014 - a time to celebrate what small schools do best!

Celebrate Small Schools Week Get together with other schools in your cluster to show off what small schools do to support pupils to achieve their best and develop into well rounded citizens.


Publicise


  • the good quotes from your latest Ofsted report showing every child is treated as an individual.
  • the positive comments parents make about what you do.
  • the favourable remarks pupils make about what they do in school
  • the things the school does to broaden the curriculum
  • the worthwhile links you have developed with the local community
  • the use you make of local talents and expertise to widen the children's experiences!
Celebrate........... celebrate.............celebrate

what amazing places small schools are.


Not enough people know what you achieve!
Danish Liberals support Small Schools!

Danish Liberals support Small Schools Many of you may be watching the well-conceived and well directed political series from Denmark, "BORGEN" series on BBC 4. Though fictional the context comes very close to reality with issues such as wind farms, austerity and immigration being addressed. The star politician and her "New Democratic" Party espousing liberal causes produced as a pre-election policy opposition to closing small schools. Their argument against the closure of small schools was that, even with alleged high costs, their presence in the community created greater economic benefit than their absence.

Though fiction, that is not far from the truth. NASS argues the same kind of sophisticated economic analysis- the kind any rational business would consider- rather than the narrow, shallow single-statistic argument Local Authorities and others offer. Long-term small schools deliver profit to the taxpayer and we need to tell him- and her! We now wonder whether small schools is a real issue in Danish politics! Information welcome!
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Sparcity Factor
Sparcity factor

In response to several members' complaints regarding Lump Sum Funding in the 2013/14 Funding arrangements, we asked each affected school to contact their MP regarding contacting the DfE and David Laws (School Minister). As a result the guidance fro 2014/15 softened the rigidity of the 2013/14 arrangements. First Local Authorities could now separate Primary and Secondary Funding, no longer having to fix the same lump sum for all schools.

Last year the DfE published on its website a figure of £200,000 lump sum maximum 'sufficient to cover the fixed cost of a small school'. In reality Councils were free to set their own lump sums and the range was enormous ranging from £42,000 to £190,000 depending on where the schools were. The review of the 2013/14 funding showed that there were 32 authorities that allocated a lump sum above the £150,000, the vast majority of these were urban authorities. So the new limit proposed for 2014/15 of £175,000 is immaterial to the small primary school as few if any received this amount before.

The new sparsity factor is being introduced 'to avoid necessary small rural schools becoming unviable'. The maximum allocation is £100,000 per school either as a single lump sum or tapered to school size; maximum number of pupils is 150 for primary schools with a minimum distance apart of 2 miles as the crow flies. The regulations make the detail clear but they also give generous flexibility to Local Authorities as to interpretation.

Already this year we have Cumbria raising the distance bar to three miles for primary schools. Other authorities limit the grant by the number of pupils. Norfolk proposes 50 pupils. Devon proposes to apply the factor to schools with fewer than 60 pupils and more than 2 miles from its nearest school so that a school with 45 pupils on role would quality to receive 25% of their sparsity factor allocation of £60,000 therefore receiving £15,000. Somerset have the qualifying pupil numbers at less that 35 with their sparsity factor of £83,000 also being tapered by the fraction of actual pupils over the qualifying number i.e. a school with 27 pupils would only receive £18,971. Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire decided not to use the sparsity factor. We would welcome news from elsewhere but it is clearly to be another postcode lottery.

Accordingly we urge schools not to be shy of contacting their political representative if they feel their Local Authority is ignoring best interest of small schools, and once more to ask them to take the issue to Ministers. NASS is currently turning every stone to argue that while government austerity encourages a generous spirit to Councils under serious financial pressure it is foolish to make new regulations so flexible as to deny the central purpose and concept of what is proposed.


Floods

With both Secretary and Information Officer based in Oxfordshire we are especially aware of the problems now facing many schools. Some have water all around them. Some, open, have children with water affected homes and difficult transport conditions for pupils and staff.  When things are clear again maybe there will be issues you feel need raising, and possible preventative solutions- not just basic flood defences but strategies to combat some of the consequences affecting education.  If NASS can help by collating and endorsing any such positive thoughts- do ask us and we shall be pleased to do what we can and maybe such action will benefit schools of any size.  Meanwhile our commiserations to all those in any way affected. We will be happy to consider comments for wider publication.
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HSE Closure Proposal defeated

Human Scale Education Our partners, Human Scale Education, felt that they had reached a stage where it was necessary to propose closure. They are a registered charity so it is complicated, but they sought confirmation at the AGM on January 18th. and the AGM dissented so they are not closing and a new steering group has been established in which NASS will play a part to shape new directions for so important a set of concepts. NASS presented the clear argument that the set of declared HSE values were actually practised in the great majority of UK small schools already and so they had to survive the threat of possible diffusion into other priorities.
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If you have any contributions for our newsletter please email us or write to us at:
National Association for Small Schools
'Quarrenden' - Upper Red Cross Road,
Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG8 9BD
Tel: 0845 2235029