A Christmas Selection Box
15 December 2016
It is difficult to see much good in the Government's announcement today (14 December) on the new national funding formula for schools. The formula, to be introduced from two years hence, is proclaimed as being the answer to inequalities in funding between schools in different parts of England. Today's announcement was made within the context of a spending squeeze which has been affecting schools for over five years now. Whilst any Government would have struggled with public finances since 2010, the simple fact is that our state education is under huge financial pressure and this looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.
None of my analysis so far is particularly new or original but it provides a background to my key point which is that, by accident or design, the national funding formula very clearly creates winners and losers. Some schools will be happy (or simply relieved) today, others will have had their trepidation about the future reinforced. I fear that the debate on education funding may now be undermined by large numbers of state schools taking opposing positions to one another in a much more overt and public way than for some decades. This would be a great shame and waste of energy as the underlying fact remains that there is not enough money in the system overall and no more is heading the way of schools any time soon.
The disappearing Christmas card
I was disappointed to receive another email today from a correspondent solemnly informing me that they would not be sending Christmas cards this year and would instead be donating the money 'saved' to charity. It seems difficult to criticise this stance; how can you condemn someone for donating to a good cause rather than frivolously sending you a piece of cardboard which will be quickly forgotten before being thrown in a bin in January? Nonetheless, I am happy to go on record as saying that I disagree with this trend. Christmas cards make people happy, they keep people in touch and often provide a spark (or more) of pleasure as they are opened. In short, they encapsulate a significant part of what Christmas is about. Also, why single out cards when so much is being spent on all manner of Christmas related paraphernalia? I would suggest that if people feel they should be giving to charity at Christmas (undeniably a good thing) then they should do this and send cards too.
Whole school read
Encouraging children to enjoy reading and to choose to read themselves is one of a school's key responsibilities. It also demands a delicate balance between trying to introduce young people to the pleasure and other benefits of reading whilst avoiding a sense of them being 'forced' to read. Try as we might, I do not think we always get this balance right.
One of the very good ideas we have introduced at Wren is an annual whole school read. Students and staff are encouraged to read the same book which is then reviewed and discussed by the school community - rather like a giant book club. This year's choice is Jules Verne's 'Around the World in 80 Days'. I have just finished this rattling good read and look forward to discussing it in the new year. If you are a Wren parent or student who has not yet joined in our whole school read, then I encourage you to take part. Maybe your family can read and discuss the book over the Christmas break.
Earlier this week we had two carol services, one for Year 1 and one for our secondary students and their families at St Barnabas' Church. Both were wonderful events, bringing the Academy community together and showing great warmth and a high quality of performance. The services were a fitting celebration of the season and a reminder of the things which matter most to our school community. I would like to say a big thank you to all of the parents who attended the services, all of the staff who helped organise the events and to all at St Barnabas' for their fantastic hospitality.
Filed under: All Through School Posted at 16:10 on 15 Dec 2016