East Devon MP takes fairer funding fight to Westminster

Hugo Swire stock picture

Hugo Swire stock picture - Credit: Archant

East Devon’s MP has called on education ministers to ‘go back to the drawing board’ over funding proposals that would see The King’s School lose £123,000.

Sir Hugo Swire this week led a debate in Westminster to discuss the ‘historic underfunding’ of Devon schools, which receive £300 less per pupil than the national average.

He voiced the concerns of headteachers, including Rob Gammon from The King’s School, who said the cuts will have a ‘considerable impact’ due to rising costs.

Sir Hugo told a meeting in Westminster Hall: “It was the South West that delivered a majority for this government in 2015, it is the South West which considers itself to be a very overlooked part of the country in terms of spend and infrastructure, and it is the South West and the MPs of the South West - who together will not put up with being overlooked anymore - who have come together this morning to say let’s look again at this review, let’s get it right, and let’s get a fair deal for Devon.

“The minister [for schools] needs to go back to the drawing board and look at the national funding formula again in order to get this right.”

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Devon MPs have been calling for fairer funding – expecting increases for the county’s schools.

A formula, announced before Christmas, will see The King’s School, Ottery Primary School and West Hill Primary School lose out financially. Only smaller rural schools stand to gain.

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Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools, said: “We recognise that schools face cost pressures, including salary increases, the introduction of the national living wage, increases to employers’ national insurance and pension scheme contributions and general inflation, as well as the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. The current, unfair funding system makes those pressures harder to manage. The new national funding formula will not only direct funding where it is most needed, but give schools greater certainty about funding and allow them to plan ahead effectively.”

In a letter to parents, Mr Gammon called on the school community to petition the Secretary of State and MPs to ‘redress the inequalities, deficiencies and flaws in the system’.

Mr Gammon said: “Whilst we have taken some significant action to alleviate our deficit budget position, our current projections over the next couple of years dwindle our contingent reserves to nothing.”

He added, under the proposals, the school could reach the point of cost saving measures having a ‘lasting and negative impact’ on pupils’ education.

A consultation into the ‘fairer funding’ concludes on March 22.

Parents are invited to attend an information evening at the school on Thursday, January 26, at 6pm, and should email office@thekings.devon.sch.uk by today (Friday) to confirm attendance.

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