On Monday afternoon I sent the following letter to headteachers in the constituency regarding the current education funding situation. I welcome any information from teachers, parents and other concerned parties regarding the current impact that the funding situation is having at your school. Please could any emails related to this please have 'education funding situation' in the subject line.
A number of parents in the constituency have been in contact with me over the last couple of days following the circulation of the letter on school funding, organised by the WorthLess? Campaign. I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the letter and set out my position on the current school funding situation.
Since being elected in 2010, I have voiced concerns about the inherent unfairness of education funding across England and the impact that this has had on areas such as ours in Devon. Despite the fact that more children are now in good or outstanding schools and we have closed the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils by around 13% at KS2 and nearly 10% at GCSE, this Government has still not managed to solve the funding crisis in our education system. This is completely unacceptable, and I shall continue to fight alongside you all to achieve this.
Our education system needs to have a formula which works, which is fair, and which gives every child the same basic sum and no school should be worse off under the new formula. The introduction of a National Funding Formula in 2018 and additional funding were certainly welcome, however I remain concerned the historic inequalities in funding have been locked into the new formula and it remains an unfair postcode lottery.
Schools are expected to do increasingly more with less money. Devon remains in the bottom 40 local authorities when it comes to education funding with pupils receiving £290 less per pupil against the national average. This is not good for the future of our children and I am fighting hard for change.
It is logical that schools with pupils with higher additional needs should receive more funding, but the way this is applied across the country is inconsistent and unfair. As the f40 campaign have repeatedly pointed out, all schools should receive the same core funding to allow them to operate successfully and to offer the best education possible to their pupils.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have met with representatives from the Department for Education to discuss a number of issues relating to education provision in the constituency. This included meeting with the Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi MP, to discuss Special Educational Needs (SEN) funding in Devon, where I highlighted the need for more money services, including CAMHS. I also recently spoke with Lord Agnew to discuss University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and the role that they play in local communities, training young people in technical professions. Whilst both meetings were productive, I still believe there remains a disconnect between the situation on the ground in schools and what the Department for Education believes is happening.
I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to deliver locally since 2010. This has included the fantastic South Devon University Technical College opening in 2015, enabling young people in the community to learn skills and trades that will enable them to contribute to some of the amazing manufacturing and engineering businesses we have here in the constituency. Three new Primary schools have been opened since 2010 and we have seen site improvements to others, including Bradley Barton School, Haytor Primary School and Coombeshead Academy.
In 2017, I arranged a meeting between the Devon Association of Primary Headteachers (DAPH), the Devon Association of Secondary Headteachers (DASH) and the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb MP, to discuss the issue of historic underfunding of schools in Devon. Whilst progress has been made, there is still a long way to go. I will be aiming to facilitate this meeting again, in order to highlight to Ministers the pressures that our schools are still facing. I shall also be writing to the Minister to seek clarification on the current situation.
In order to make clear to the Department for Education quite how serious the concerns of headteachers are about funding then I need your help. If you are able and willing to share examples of how the current funding pressures are affecting your schools, then I would be interested to hear them. Furthermore, I would be more than happy to meet with you and parents or teachers at your schools to discuss this matter further. I would also be grateful if you could circulate this letter to concerned parents. If you would like to arrange a meeting, then please do get in contact with me or my office.
Nothing can replace a good education. It drives aspiration and develops skills which will determine how well each of us is equipped to take advantage of the opportunities we have in life. For the South West it is so important to raise our skill levels, to drive productivity and economic growth. I will continue to fight to ensure we have an education system that is fairly funded, and where a good education is accessible for all.
Anne Marie Morris
Member of Parliament for Newton Abbot