MP Hugo to meet schools minister over Sidmouth College funding

EAST DEVON MP Hugo Swire will meet schools minister Jim Knight in a month s time to discuss the unfair funding system for Devon s secondary schools.

EAST DEVON MP Hugo Swire will meet schools minister Jim Knight in a month's time to discuss the "unfair" funding system for Devon's secondary schools.

Before they meet on Tuesday, May 19, the MP will discuss the discrepancies in the Government's Dedicated Schools Grant; highlighted by Sidmouth College principal Jeremy Roberts, with Michael Gove, Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on Thursday, May 7.

He arranged both meetings after discussions with Jeremy Roberts, principal of Sidmouth College, who has sought voluntary redundancies among his 100 teaching and support staff because he cannot stretch the school budget any further.

The college gets just �3,843 per pupils from the schools grant, less than half that given to London schools.

Before Easter, Mr Roberts told the Herald: "We can't carry on educating young people with the present budget.

"I believe it is time to have a national funding structure for schools to reflect the fact of nationally driven costs and expectations.

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"Why should a child in Devon not be funded at the same level as a child elsewhere?

"There needs to be flexibility, but I absolutely refuse to accept that a child's education in Devon is worth that much less."

Issues likely to be discussed with Jim Knight include:

* How can we be expected to balance the budget if the main costs of education are determined nationally but funding is limited according to geographical location?

* Is a child's education worth so much less in Devon?

* Why will the government not consider a national funding formula?"

Mr Swire broke off from his holiday in Cornwall to say he would discuss Devon's underfunding per pupil with Mr Gove, using Sidmouth College as an example of its affect on school budgets, and consider "what a Conservative government could do to address that.

"It is ludicrous the things the school is resorting to because of lack of funding [such as cutting down on photocopying] and Sidmouth needs new buildings as well," he said.

Of his meeting with Mr Knight, Mr Swire said: "I want to point out the under-funding and how he honestly thinks the school can save money.

"I don't know if it will result in a change of heart by Government overnight, I strongly suspect it will not.

"I have fought this cause because of its manifest unfairness."

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