FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions


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Why is Europa School UK having to raise additional funds?                                                          

Europa is trying to do more than a typical state school, with lower than average funding, at a time when government funding of state schools is very tight anyway. Many schools are struggling to make ends meet without making significant cuts to staffing and curriculum.

More critically, Europa is still in a transition stage: with only 2 language streams from P4 to S7, a number of pupils in S3 - S7 who transferred from the European School with other first languages and new classrooms needed to accommodate the growing school.

Lower than expected funding allocations, lagged funding (funding for new classes only being received the academic year after the class opens), increased costs (pay increases, NI and pension costs and general inflation), and limited reserves leave the school unable to cover the costs of the transition stage without raising additional funds. 

Why are parents being asked to contribute?            

Other options are limited. The school has been actively pursuing additional funding from the DFE and local council wherever possible, with mixed success.  Seeking funding from external organisations and businesses is difficult without demonstrating significant commitment from parents first, and not a good fit for funding operating costs rather than capital projects. Options to raise funds from the site have been ruled out with the issues over signing the lease.

Ultimately, support from parents is the only practical way of raising the sums required, and the parents and pupils are of course the direct beneficiaries of the unique education Europa School provides.

Last year we were told the new National Funding Formula would solve our problems in September 2019, what has changed?

The National Funding Formula (NFF) is supposed to make education funding fairer for all schools with a standard per pupil funding across the country (currently there is up to 43% discrepancies between per pupil funding in inner cities and the counties, such as Oxfordshire).  However, the government has announced a change to how the NFF is being implemented and they are using what they call a ‘soft’ implementation via the local councils.  This means Oxfordshire County Council controls how the funds are distributed and, unfortunately, ESUK’s funds have been capped by the County. Initially, this arrangement was planned to change in September 2020, but that has now been delayed by a further year to September 2021 at least and the future of the NFF remains unclear beyond that.

Further info from TES on NFF

What other sources of funding are being pursued?

Increased government revenue funding

The school management team have actively pursued additional funding from the Department for Education, with some success. Through careful scrutiny of the financial award for this academic year the management uncovered a series of material errors amounting to £236,000.  That same close scrutiny will happen this year.

The management and governors are also pursuing further concessions, for example, relief from  lagged funding.

Government capital funding

The school has received a commitment worth approximately £1.2m in funding to bring secondary buildings to a reasonable state of repair.

Language stream specific funding

  • German - a very active parent has secured help from one source and is actively pursuing other sources of funding and resources.
  • French - early stages
  • Spanish - to be initiated this term

Income from the site

Full exploitation of the site will only be possible once an acceptable lease agreement and the capital works programme are agreed. This will hopefully develop in the coming academic year and engaging with community organisations will also open up new sources of grants to the school.

Donations from local businesses and local independent schools

We have begun a campaign and are contacting local businesses requesting assistance.  We are also working with local independent schools who are supporting us with subsidised training and other invaluable low cost help. 

How has ESUK cut costs / ensured low cost?

We have increased class sizes for the 2019 intake of pupils to 30 per class.

As a school we have a very flat management structure, we do not have any department heads and although the primary school is very large with a three-form entry, we only have one Assistant Head. In addition, the Principal also carries out the role of Head of Secondary. Our administration team is very small when compared with other schools of a similar size.

We have also renegotiated our contracts with our suppliers to reduce costs and are always looking for ways to decrease costs without impacting on the classroom.

Is it just for this year or will parents be asked next year / ongoing?  

This year is especially challenging and we need to cover essential operating costs and some critical capital projects in both primary and secondary, as well as protecting our small level of existing reserves.   In secondary there are some temporary transition costs (running the alternative L1 students through to Bac) that will fall away after 4 years. In primary we need to add an extra classroom each year to accommodate the Spanish stream Y4-Y6.  

We expect to still need parental contributions next year at similar levels. If the funding position improves, we may be able to reduce funding requirements from parents in subsequent years.  We expect to have an initial view of Department for Education for next school year by Easter.

Ongoing, like most schools, we will also look to parents for contributions to deliver capital projects and to improve the school assets.   

Why are you adding new classes when you are short of funding?

The school needs to grow to become sustainable and cannot grow without adding a new language stream. 

Virgin Money Giving charges seem high can I donate a different way?

There are various reasons we use Virgin Money Giving:

  1. The administration for collecting Gift Aid is time-consuming and the administration team is small and stretched, Virgin Money Giving do all the work and we benefit from the 25% extra that gift aid provides. 
  2. Our external auditors recommended using a donation site such as Virgin Money Giving.
  3. We have explored using other sites with lower fees and have used BT Donate since September 2018, however, BT Donate has announced its closure.  Each time you ask donors to swap the donation method you lose a proportion, so we have decided to stay with Virgin Money Giving because of the major charity giving sites with a substantial customer base and a sustainable model it one of the more generous. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/charity-fundraising-sites/
  4. The reporting and administrative areas are good and save subtantial time for the finance team.

If you are making a one-off donation before June 30th 2019 please use this link to BT DONATE. However, please do not use this link to set up new regular donations.

Can I donate anonymously?

Yes, of course you can, but please bear in mind that if we don't have you name we can't thank you personally. It would be really helpful if you could let us know what class your child/ children are in on the donation though.

Most parents assume the new language classroom is for Spanish Y4. So French and German stream parents don't see the need to contribute. Is this the case?

No. 

If we do not increase the size of the school by at least 28 pupils per year as per our plan, the school will not be viable in the long term.  Therefore, we must find classrooms for our growing intake. The classrooms are not exclusively for the Spanish classes, any of the three language streams could inhabit them.  However, if we do not raise the funds to build the new classes our contigency plan is to accommodate the top years of primary in the secondary school and they will not have a dedicated classroom.

Interesting fact:  Over two thirds of families donating to the classroom fund have children in the French or German streams. 

I am already donating but I don't get an acknowledgment any more. 

Some families have discovered that their donations have stopped. If you aren't getting your acknowledgments then you may need to check it is still active. 

Does the request for funding for primary include the new language classroom?

No, the £40,000 for the classroom is not included in the this figure. 

What added value does ESUK offer?

Primary

  • Despite our lower per pupil funding, there are a number of areas where we deliver substantially more than other state primary schools, some of which result in real savings for parents:

    • The benefits of the multi-lingual offering are considerable. By the end of primary every child will be fluent in their stream language.  They will have benefited from immersion teaching with specialist language teachers (mostly native speakers) for half the week over 7 years.  By comparison, paying for just one hour of language classes a week would typically cost £500 or more each year, with far less resulting fluency.  Less tangible, but increasingly recognised, are the long term cognitive benefits gained by learning a second language from a young age.

    • Pupils receive around 105 hours more teaching per year than other local state primaries.

    • Longer school hours are a real help for the majority of working parents. The ability to drop off from 08:00 any day, without having to pay for breakfast club cover , plus the After School Club allowing late pick-ups at until 6pm, make it very feasible for working parents to juggle drop-offs without having to negotiate shorter hours.  

    • For any families with siblings across Primary / Secondary or Primary & Pre-school, the ability to limit drop-offs to one location and similarity of hours is a real time-saver at both ends of the day.

    • The scale of the combined Primary/Secondary school means there are viable bus services from many places, giving parents the flexibility to use school buses from reception, which would simply not be possible in most primary schools.

    • The lack of uniform cost is a financial bonus for parents compared to other schools.

    • Primary pupils can use the wider secondary facilities e.g. sports hall,, playing fields etc. both during school and for on-site After-school activities.

    • And finally, the immersion in a multi-cultural experience from such a young age equips our children to be internationally aware, tolerant, world citizens. They develop a broad understanding of different cultures from their friends, with a natural assumption that diversity adds to the richness of all our lives.

1. Assuming £15 per class/week x 38 weeks of term = £570 pa
2. Reception-P2 pupils receive around 130 extra hours of teaching than the annual state norm, P3-P6 pupils receive about 80 hours of extra teaching. 
3. Breakfast clubs typically costs around £1-2 per day = £190-380 pa

Secondary

  • Very experienced teachers

  • Legacy language sections maintained

  • Participation in Pan-European cultural and sporting events e.g.

    • Eurosport
    • Model European Parliament
    • Model United Nations conferences
    • European School Festival of Art and Music
    • European School Science Symposium

S1 - S5

  • Third language from S1 (2 periods per week in S1 then three periods from S2)
  • All students study triple science
  • Extra Options which are not normally offered at this stage include:
  • 6 period Maths course in S4 & 5 (equivalent to GCSE higher and AS level)
  • 4 period Economics course
  • 4 period Latin course
  • Our students continue to study 13 subjects up to S5, whereas many schools are now only studying 8 GCSE's

Sixth Form

Many schools are now only allowing the study of 3 ‘A’ levels equivalent to about 16 hours per week of teaching time or 4 ‘A’ levels which require about 22 hours of teaching time per week at Europa School most of our students have 25 hours of teaching time per week. They study at least nine subjects with at least 5 of these at a time allocation equivalent to A level study.

What is a ‘free school’?

See this BBC article for reference - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13266290

‘Free schools are independent state funded schools, set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, trusts, religious or voluntary groups, but funded directly by central government.  

The schools are established as academies, independent of local authorities. Unlike local-authority-run schools, they are exempt from teaching the national curriculum and have increased control over teachers' pay and conditions and the length of school terms and days.

Free schools receive no additional money per pupil for their day to day running. Funding is worked out on a per pupil basis, like other state-funded schools.’

How is the money spent at ESUK ?

For information about how we spend our money at ESUK, please click here.

What happens if we don't raise the funds by August?

ESUK will probably have to apply to the government for an deficit funding. If they judge us to be failing financially they could ask us to join a Multi Academy Trust (MAT), in which case we would lose our autonomy.  This may mean we would have to stop offering our bilingual curriculum, if they deem it too expensive. This may not happen, but that is the risk.

Do you know why the institute of fiscal studies (Long-run comparisons of spending per pupil across different stages of education August 2018) quote a figure per pupil of 6,300 for secondary pupils whilst the figure you quote as the school is receiving is £4,505?

The figure is an average value and must include Pupil Premium and Special Educational Needs spending. The problem is that historically the range of funding for different parts of the country varied enormously. Oxfordshire has always been an area where the spend per pupil is low, this is the reason that Oxfordshire is in the F40 group with all the other poorly funding local authorities. The NFF was supposed to redress this inequality but the implementation has been delayed and softened. This is why Mr Ashbourne predicted that we would be in a better financial situation next year.
You can see average funding per pupil for the various regions by as published on gov.uk here, to see the full document please use this link and select Main Tables.