26th October 2015
MPs write to the Prime Minister to demand Fair School Funding
Gordon Henderson MP, Member of Parliament for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, has joined 110 other MPs to write an open letter to David Cameron calling on the Government to deliver school funding reform. The MPs, working on a cross-party basis, ask the Prime Minister to implement the funding formula proposed by the F40 campaign group, which would ensure fair funding based on pupil need.
Under the current system, the ten best funded areas of England will receive an average grant of £6,297 per pupil this year, compared to an average of just £4,208 per pupil in the ten most poorly funded areas. Schools in Kent receive £4,380.
In their letter, the MPs say:
“It is widely acknowledged that the existing school funding model is a muddle and that funding for individual schools with similar pupil characteristics is arbitrary and unfair.
“At a time of spending restraint it is more important than ever that funding is allocated based on need. F40 has come up with a formula which would see the funding cake shared much more fairly.
“We believe this formula can help deliver a solution. We want the children in our schools to continue to have a broad range of subjects to study, good resources to use, well maintained buildings, reasonably sized classes and excellent pastoral support. Fairer funding is integral to all of this, and we urge you to deliver it.”
Those who have signed the letter include former Cabinet ministers Dominic Grieve, Caroline Spelman and Cheryl Gillan (Conservative) and Ben Bradshaw and Andrew Smith (Labour), Education Committee Chairman Neil Carmichael and Commons Speaker John Bercow, in his capacity as MP for Buckingham.
Gordon Henderson MP said, “I believe there are fundamental inequalities in the current funding system for schools which disadvantage us here in Kent. A fairer system, as proposed by the f40 group of local authorities and supported by the 111 MPs from all parties that have signed this letter, is long overdue.”
The MPs’ letter was coordinated by F40 Vice Chairman Graham Stuart MP, who chaired Parliament’s Education Select Committee 2010-2015. Graham said:
“The fact that so many MPs have signed this letter on a cross-party basis shows the strength of feeling in favour of school funding reform. This is about bringing an end to an arbitrary and unfair system – it’s not about rural versus urban, or Conservative vs Labour, it’s about bringing order from chaos. The Government deserves credit for promising to act and now is the time to deliver a rational, needs-based funding settlement.
“At a time when the Department for Education is considering its options, we want the Government to be in no doubt that our constituents deserve swift and comprehensive funding reform to deliver fairness for their children.
“The F40 group has campaigned tirelessly to raise the profile of this issue and has made sensible suggestions about how a new funding formula could be introduced. In the meantime our campaign is continuing with Parliamentary petitions being coordinated by F40 MPs with the help of local authorities and schools to let people have their say. We won’t rest until we have delivered fair funding for English schools.”
F40 Chairman Councillor Ivan Ould welcomed the MPs’ letter. Councillor Ould said:
“The campaign for Fair School funding is at a critical stage. I hope the Government will note this very substantial support for a fairer system and would urge all MPs who represent the 40 lowest funded authorities to keep up the pressure for change.”