MPs WIN “WELCOME REASSURANCES” FROM GOVERNMENT ON SCHOOL FUNDING
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MPs WIN “WELCOME REASSURANCES” FROM GOVERNMENT ON SCHOOL FUNDING

Reassurances offered by Education Minister, David Laws during a debate yesterday (Tuesday) on school funding in Worcestershire have been welcomed by Peter Luff, the MP for Mid Worcestershire.

The debate was held after the Government announced that a new local funding arrangement for schools would be introduced. However, the changes would mean that many schools in all areas of the county would lose large sums from their budgets.

This announcement caused alarm from teachers and parents alike, particularly in the Vale of Evesham where £1.3 million a year would be lost from April 2015 from school budgets if things aren’t changed.

Peter Luff was one of five Worcestershire MPs who attended the debate, which was arranged and introduced by neighbouring MP for West Worcestershire, Harriett Baldwin.

During the debate Peter said,

“The schools in the Evesham pyramid in my constituency would be most seriously affected were the policy to proceed unamended. The schools in the Evesham pyramid would lose about £1.3 million.

“They cannot afford to lose that amount of money. No school could, but certainly not schools that are in a badly funded authority to begin with.

“Change in distribution in a badly funded county is fraught with danger, and I fear that it will be difficult to find any arrangement that prevents some significant loss for some schools unless we first have the fairer funding that the county so desperately needs.”

In his response, Minister of State David Laws said that the Department for Education recognised the need to put in place a system whereby pupils were not disadvantaged as a result of school funding system that does not distribute fairly. He said,

“We are trying to move gradually towards introducing a new funding system at a pace that gives us sufficient time to agree the construction of a new formula and to allow schools enough time to adjust to changes in their funding arrangements.

“The extension of the minimum funding guarantee beyond 2015 should reassure the several Worcestershire schools – including the Hanley Castle pyramid, Prince Henry’s High School and Evesham High School – that have contacted me to express concerns about a potential cliff edge in funding from 2014-15 if the minimum funding guarantee were to end.

“We have made it clear that we want to prevent the changes from having unacceptable consequences for good schools.”

He also gave assurances about Government support for small rural schools, who are concerned that a change in the funding arrangements would mean that they are forced to close, saying,

“We remain committed to ensuring that good, small schools are able to thrive under the new arrangements...it is not our intention that any good schools should be forced to close as a result of these reforms.”

He concluded his speech by saying,
“I commend my hon. Friends for making their representations so effectively to the Department that the Worcestershire file is probably the largest of any county. I look forward to maintaining contact with Worcestershire in the run-up to the decisions, which we will make and announce next year.”
After the debate Peter commented,

“I am very encouraged by the response and attitude of the Department of Education about funding problems of Worcestershire schools.

“It remains my view that it would be better to first have a fairer national funding distribution in order to put Worcestershire’s schools on a level playing ground with their counterparts elsewhere in the country. The approach the minister took, though, and his promise that Worcestershire’s schools will not lose out on funding in the short term – while a fairer system is devised - is very welcome.

“There was a clear suggestion from the minister that schools budgets would be protected from unmanageable falls through the continuation of the minimum funding guarantee well beyond 2014-2015, which is great news.

“This is a very positive step and I hope that local people will be reassured by the minister’s comments. Now we have to work with him to ensure his good intentions are put into practice.”

ENDS


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