I have consistently pushed for a higher level of core funding for our local schools. The Secretary of State, Justine Greening, promised me she would address this in the Commons before the General Election, a promise confirmed to me by the Prime Minister in PMQs. This was also the main recommendation in the joint submission made by West Sussex MPs as part of the Fair Funding consultation.
I am delighted that Justine Greening in a statement this week has now confirmed that all secondary schools should receive at least £4,800 per pupil by 2019-2020. This is good news for local secondary schools and should result in a significant increase in funding.
The detail is of course important. Prior to the statement I had already scheduled to meet Justine Greening and have also arranged to meet local Heads in Horsham later this week. School by school numbers will be released in September.
The uplift is the first installment of extra money for schools which the Conservative Party promised in the General election – it represents an extra £1.3 billion for the next two years, in addition to existing plans. This increases core funding for schools and high needs from almost £41 billion this year to £43.5 billion in two years’ time, and it maintains funding per pupil in real terms for the two year period.
The extra funds will help deliver the National Fair Funding Formula. The formula will reduce the huge unfairness in the system. It will not provide equal per pupil funding across the country: there is wide acknowledgement that we need to provide extra funds to support pupils who come from particularly deprived backgrounds, have low prior attainment or don’t speak English as a first language. However it will help narrow the gap.
Funding is half the equation, costs are the other. The impact of additional costs – including costs that need to be incurred including in respect of pay and pensions – are real. I believe this package is an important step in the right direction. I am looking forward to receiving more information on primary school funding and seeing the exact impact, school by school.
Photo caption: Meeting stewards and volunteers supporting the Horsham Riverside Walk – which again saw an increase in numbers, many coming from far afield. Congratulations to 1st Roffey Beavers for completing the first stretch!