The Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP has announced historic reforms in Parliament this week that will bring an end to the unfairness in the school funding system which has impacted our local schools in Cambridgeshire in particular.
Cambridgeshire MPs have worked together with head teachers, governors and parents to lobby Ministers repeatedly on this issue since I was first elected in 2010, calling for school funding to be based on need. It is great news that this overdue change to per pupil funding is now being delivered, and will be introduced in the 2017/18 financial year.
Our funding per pupil in Cambridgeshire remains below many other areas of the country. This is because we started from such a low base under the old system of funding put in place ten years ago when Labour were in Government, and it was difficult to change this during coalition government even though we secured a record increase of 7% this year for Cambridgeshire which was the highest rise of any area of the country.
The Conservative Party made a manifesto commitment at the last General Election to make school funding fairer, and it is therefore great that this is now being delivered.
It makes little sense for schools in for example Whittlesey to receive less money per pupil than those in Peterborough just down the road when they have similar need, or for our schools to receive significantly less than other areas of the country which are now more prosperous. The current funding system is not based on what schools need but rather historical funding settlements from a decade ago, with differences exacerbated by the fact local authorities can set their own, differing formula for schools.
It is vital that historically underfunded areas get on the front foot and respond to the consultation. I suspect the Labour Party will oppose this policy change in Parliament (even though a small number of Labour MPs have called for it), so it is important that as many parents, governors and teachers from Cambridgeshire as possible respond to this consultation. Given the needs of schools in Fenland and East Cambs and our low historic funding, our area will benefit significantly from this change which means more money for local head teachers to spend on children in our schools.
A big thank you to all those who have worked so tirelessly in this campaign. As I said in my blog on 13th March 2014, there is no issue on which I have lobbied as hard (not even the re-opening of the Wisbech to Cambridge Rail line!) as previous blogs like this and this show.
Whenever I meet with local head teachers, the funding formula is always their number one item of frustration. We secured an adjustment with the 7% record rise last year to help mitigate this problem, but we now have the chance to change the formula as a whole and address it much more fundamentally. This is a great opportunity for schools in North East Cambridgeshire. It is what we have asked Ministers to do. Now we need you to do your bit and fill in the response to the consultation so we get the detail of the implementation right for our area.
The consultation closes on the 17th April but please respond as soon as possible. Go to the link here.