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£250,000 review of ‘unfit’ school-funding system announced

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A QUARTER of a million pounds is to be spent on an independent review of Jersey’s school-funding system, which the Education Minister says is currently ‘not fit for purpose’.

Senator Tracey Vallois

The review, which will be completed by the end of the year, will be the basis of a new model due to be consulted upon, agreed and published by September 2020.

The piece of work will look at everything from grants paid to fee-paying schools, funding for all States schools and their nurseries, all 16-18 provisions and alternative services, such as those for looked-after children and young people educated other than at school.

The review will be paid for by contingencies signed off by Treasury Minister Susie Pinel. The contract for the work will go out to tender.

Education Minister Tracey Vallois said: ‘The evidence from across the education service suggests that the current funding formula is not fit for purpose. There are a number of challenges, including increased demands on schools, including a new curriculum, new assessment and qualifications.

‘We also have more complex challenges facing children, young people and families, and these groups require support for the significant increases in mental health challenges and wider social and emotional needs, and the impact of poverty on some families.

‘A full and independent review of the school-funding model is urgently required to ensure that we deliver on the common strategic priority to put children first. Children must be able to attend schools that are well-resourced, with good levels of financial headroom, and which support the best outcomes for all children. The review must also make recommendations for school funding in Jersey for the medium to longer term, for example, looking forward 20 years.’

A review of the early years system, including access to 20 free nursery hours for children in the year before they start school, is also under way. The minister has said that any new system will provide at least the current level of free provision.

In 2011, then Education Minister James Reed sparked a public debate after proposing multi-million-pound cuts to the subsidies paid to fee-paying schools. The proposals were eventually scrapped. However, in 2017 watered-down reductions were agreed by the States, with the grants paid to Beaulieu, De La Salle, FCJ, Victoria College and Jersey College for Girls, and their associated prep schools, reduced by 1.5% in 2018 and a further 1.5% in 2019 to save £600,000 a year.

Meanwhile, since 2017 schools across Jersey have been eligible for extra funding for disadvantaged students under the Jersey Premium scheme. This year a total of 2,500 children are eligible with schools sharing a funding pot worth £2,494,696.

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
author

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