Welcome to our December 2013 Newsletter

The application of the Optional Sparsity Factor for 2014-15

Funding for small schools The Review of 2013-14 arrangements and Changes for 2014-2015 gave local authorities some flexibility regarding:
  1. distance threshold provided the minimum was 2 miles 'as the crow flies'
  2. number of pupils provided the maximum was 150
  3. allocation of sum of money provided the maximum was £100,000 with option of tapering related to school size
It has been interesting to gather from various members the variations proposed by Local Authorities. Some like Oxfordshire are not proposing to implement the Sparsity Factor whilst others are proposing to increase the distance threshold to a minimum of 3 miles, as Cumbria is. Norfolk is proposing to keep the distance at 2 miles but maximum pupil numbers to under 50 whilst Devon is suggesting a maximum pupil number of 60 and applying a tapering factor to the maximum funding of £60,000. North Yorkshire is proposing a maximum size of 90 pupils, a distance of 3 miles with a maximum sum of £50,000 tapered according to pupil numbers.

We would like to hear what other authorities are proposing.
Speech by Nick Clegg - 2015 hope?

Fair funding for small schools

In a West Country speech Nick Clegg seems to have aroused hopes of fairer funding for rural areas and with specific reference to small rural schools and their difficulties.

Read a summary of his speech here.

BBC Radio 4 Farming Today and Rural Schools

A rural school

The early morning farming programme included reports on various aspects of rural schools during the week beginning November 11th. They included interviews with:
  1. Scotland's Learning Minister Doctor Alasdair Allan who spoke favourably about small schools and high attaining pupils
  2. Nick Harvey, M.P. for North Devon, who talked about the need for the proposed New National Funding Formula and queried why pupils in urban areas received education funding one and a half times more than those in rural areas. He stated that poverty exists in rural areas citing North Devon and Cornwall as one of the poorest areas in England whilst Torridge had the lowest GDP per head of population in the U.K.
  3. A head teacher from a Suffolk primary school, who asked why the funding in primary schools in Hackney was £3,000 more per pupil than in her local authority.
  4. A head teacher from Oxfordshire commenting on the LA's decision not to implement the optional sparsity factor in their funding.
  5. Gillian Haywood from Gloucestershire Schools Forum talked of high cost of rural housing in parts of the Cotswolds and the difficulties of recruiting teachers to village schools.
  6. A chair of governors who said village schools can be dynamic innovative places providing high standards of education.
  7. The head of Fairfield Secondary School in Herefordshire, one of the very smallest but outstanding secondary schools in the country, who spoke positively about the benefits of small school education to all pupils.
This was linked with local radio programmes on rural schools to which Mervyn Benford, our Information Officer, was asked to take part in and respond to questions. NASS was also approached by Country File for information about rural schools and their funding.
Conserving creativity in the early years

Young children in school Thoughts from Kathryn Solly, recently retired head teacher of the renowned Chelsea Open Air Nursery School.

I believe that high quality play and learning in the maintained early years sector are at risk. Our future citizens, who learn through their high quality play indoors and out, are beginning to be presented with limited horizons by the society they live in. Our future engineers, artists, lawyers, scientists and entrepreneurs will lack their broad base of rich interactive process based experience from which they develop their rich and innovative ideas.

Just like nature children need time, space and quality how, in the 21st century, do we ensure the rich possibilities of play and the ideas sown by the pioneers such as Steiner, Montessori, McMillan, Isaacs and Froebel are furthered and put into practice? For example: Froebel created the kindergarten to nurture high quality play and learning indoors and out. If such opportunities are not available to young children, what creative possibilities will we see in their future lives? We are also currently educating young children for a world we do not know with jobs that don't yet exist. Read more
Cumbria Outdoors

Fair funding for small schools

We have been asked to introduce a document by Cumbria Outdoors, a leading provider of experiental learning which offers support to small schools. The organisation is part of the Children's Services Directorate within Cumbria County Council.

For more information on Cumbria Outdoors and activities click here.

NASS celebrating Small Schools Week - June 2014

More details to come in our next eNews!

Hope you have an enjoyable end to this term… and that all the various Christmas productions and celebrations go well.

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