This morning (Wednesday 18th January 2017) I spoke in the Westminster Hall debate on Education Funding in Devon. The current funding formula is unfair and while the proposals for the future funding formula are better there is still a need for improvement. It was illuminating when, before the start of this Parliamentary term two weeks ago, I met with the Devon Association of Primary Headteachers (DAPH) and the Devon Association of Secondary Heads (DASH). They are concerned that they are not being listened to through this consultation. I therefore put their concerns directly to the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb.
I pointed out to the minister that I don’t think our children should be the victim of a postcode lottery depending on where they live. While the statistics for Devon compared to Cornwall look better this is down to the different approaches taken by the respective councils in the way local authorities determine what goes to each school. Sir Hugo Swire made the point that if Devon and Cornwall received the same rate then Devon would receive an additional £792,000 for education. While Devon is a net winner from the proposed funding formula changes the increase is woefully insufficient and will not even meet the costs of the apprenticeship levy.
Those that have higher needs should also not be left behind. In Newton Abbot 17% of the children are in the high needs group. Currently schools do not get the extra resources despite paying the extra costs associated with higher needs children. I asked the minster therefore to make sure schools are adequately resourced to continue to help those with higher needs.
I challenged the minister to urgently consult with other departments including; the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to look at abolishing the apprenticeship levy burden that is inappropriately placed on schools.
The minister agreed with me that the current funding system makes the pressures that schools face harder to manage. He reiterated that the consultation runs until March 22nd and agreed after the debate that he would meet DAPH and DASH to discuss all the issues raise. While the minister made some very welcome comments, the proof will be in the action! Changes need to happen now and cannot wait until the funding review. The education of our children is crucial for the continued prosperity of our country today, and in the future.
Watch my contribution to the debate here: https://goo.gl/qmGViN
Watch the full debate here: https://goo.gl/l0AQ2z