Emma spoke from Labour’s front bench this week in a Westminster Hall debate brought forward by Sharon Hodgson MP regarding school funding in the North East, Emma set out the desperate situation in many of our schools because of the Government’s appalling record on Education.
Emma was joined by a number of north East MPs who put forward the concerns of many of the head teachers in their constituencies who have had to send letters to parents to ask for monthly contributions to sustain the quality of teaching and cover fundamental costs for their children.
The Government has frozen the funding that schools receive per pupil – which means the money is actually cut in real terms, after inflation is taken into account 99% of schools in the country face a per-pupil funding cut.
Under current Government policies which include plans to reallocate school budgets according to the new national funding formula, and not increasing funding per pupil in line with inflation, state schools across the North East face a real terms shortfall of around £130 million by 2019 with schools in South Tyneside set to lose £7,285,105.
The independent spending watchdog the National Audit Office said in a major report in February that schools nationwide face a funding shortfall of £3bn under the Government’s Fair Funding formula which, as Labour has pointed out, is neither fair nor funds schools adequately.
This means schools are facing their first real-terms funding cuts in 20 years – on average about 7 per cent of their budgets. This can only get worse once the plans are rolled out over the next few years.
A report published this week by the cross party Commons Committee of Public Accounts said:
“We are concerned that there is a tension between setting up new free schools and supporting existing schools. Free schools are helping to meet the need for new school places in some areas but are also creating spare capacity elsewhere.”
The Government has diverted money away from cash-strapped state schools to pursue their ideological “vanity project” to set up free schools and grammar schools which are based on selection and do nothing to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds and do not create school places for local children who need them.
The National Audit Office reported in February that spending on free schools has doubled since 2010, while £6.7bn is needed to bring existing school buildings in England and Wales to a satisfactory level.
Following the debate Emma said:
This Government has taken us to a point where schools are paying off teachers, teaching assistants and support staff and being forced to send begging letters to parents to pay for this Government’s mistakes. Despite the industry wide calls for the Government to end these savage cuts to our schools, the Minister will not even acknowledge there is a crisis and he certainly has no answers as to why his Government are pouring money into a Grammar school programme when hundreds of schools across the country are literally falling to bits. Only a Labour government want an education system that works for all children, not just the lucky few. This country has a choice on June 8th – and I hope parents choose to put children’s education in the hands of a Labour government who have pledged to invest to ensure the highest standards in schools, where every child is cherished and supported.
You can read the debate here.
See how your school fares under the new funding formula, see here.