Tuesday, 19 September 2017

School funding should be fairer, says MP

JOHN HOWELL is to seek a review of the Government’s proposed new schools funding formula.

The Henley MP hopes to meet Education Secretary Justine Greening this month to complain that many South Oxfordshire schools would be see their budgets cut.

Almost all the primary schools would receive up to three per cent less money and Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common would be the only secondary to benefit.

At the moment, the formula is calculated by education authorities, such as Oxfordshire County Council, which means similar schools in different parts of the country receive vastly different amounts.

The Government says this is unfair and outdated and has proposed a national formula that would reduce the variations between areas.

However, many headteachers have criticised the plans for cutting their budgets.

Gillotts School in Henley has said that under the new formula its income would be cut by 1.1 per cent, about £40,000.

Headteacher Catharine  Darnton said: “We have been making savings for seven years. We have cut all non-staff costs as far as we can.

“What you are seeing now is schools having to cut funding from frontline provision. Eighty per cent of schools funding goes on staff. You could start to see the curriculum being reduced, with fewer options.”

Mr Howell said: “I shall be raising the fairness of the formula and how it appears that Oxfordshire schools have been disadvantaged.

“It is important to me and it’s a good case to take up. I want to see fairness and it seems odd, to say the least, if schools that were at the bottom of the pile under the old formula have further money taken away from them.

“I am surprised that the formula has come out in this way, which is why I want to raise it and try to secure a review of it. If you don’t try, you don’t get.

“A number of constituents have contacted me about school funding and I appreciate the concerns.

“In the last couple of years I have support the F40 fair funding campaign, I have petitioned Parliament, I have arranged meetings with local school heads with fellow MPs and have myself raised the issues with ministers.”

Public consultation on the proposed formula will close on March 22.

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