Friday, 18 October 2013

Minister Told Schools Cannot Afford To Wait Years For More Money

MP Julian Huppert has warned Education Secretary Michael Gove that Cambridgeshire schools cannot afford to wait up to three years for more money.

He said a new school funding formula for schools must be a “core priority” for the government and action must be taken now.

Julian is joining MPs from across the country in co-signing a letter to Mr Gove urging him to make changes to the formula during the term of this government and not wait until after the 2015 election.

“The climate of financial constraint has been hard enough on schools and action on a national formula is vital now,” the letter says. “Of course, the introduction of a new system should not be a rushed job, but this should not get in the way of moving forwards to deliver a solution to this real problem for schools in our constituencies.”

A consultation on the new funding formula is planned for December with a move towards implementation in 2015-16.

Cambridgeshire gets £600 less per pupil per year than the English average which means the county’s schools are short changed by a massive £34 million.

Julian has worked for years to get a fairer deal for Cambridgeshire schools. He led a debate in Westminster Hall on the issue and has pushed Ministers to review the amount of money it gives for pupils in the county.

“We are so close to getting a better deal for our children,” said Julian, “and we cannot afford to wait any longer. I want to see this pushed through during the term of this government not after the next election.

“Cambridgeshire schools have been underfunded for 30 years, suffering for the poor decisions of successive governments. Now that fact has been recognised and we need to put it right as soon as we can.

“I am determined to make sure that I keep up the pressure so that our schools get the money they need to give our children the education they deserve.”

The full wording of the letter reads:

This is a critical time for the issue of fairer school funding – a subject that you will be aware matters a great deal in our constituencies. Let us therefore begin by expressing our thanks for your commitment to creating a new, fairer and more transparent funding formula.

A fundamental rebalancing of the school funding formula must be a core priority for the Department for Education between now and the next election. For too long many of our local authorities have lost out and the disadvantage is keenly felt – the distribution of money simply does not reflect the unique needs of Local Authorities in many constituencies.

We understand a consultation is planned for December this year, to move towards a new formula for 2015-16. This is extremely welcome, but we must emphasise that the necessary changes cannot wait until after 2015; the climate of financial constraint has been hard enough on schools and action on a national formula is vital now.

We urge you to seize this opportunity to make historic changes during the term of this Government. Real progress has already been made, with the recent introduction of a factor for rural sparsity in local formulae. However, the ambition of this Coalition Government should not be to stop there and wait, but to go further and put us on the road now towards achieving a fairer system by 2015.

Of course, the introduction of a new system should not be a rushed job, but this should not get in the way of making of moving forwards to deliver a solution to this very real problem for schools in our constituencies.

Thank you again for your work on this issue so far, which has been a priority for the Liberal Democrats for a long time. We look forward to supporting you in delivering real fairness to education funding.