Local MP to attend NDC meeting on fairer funding for schools

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Posted on: 14 February 2017

North Devon’s MP Peter Heaton Jones will be attending a special North Devon Council meeting that has been called to discuss proposed government changes to education funding.

North Devon Council’s Executive will meet tomorrow, Wednesday 15 February, and Mr Heaton Jones has accepted an invitation from Leader Cllr Des Brailey to come.

The meeting was called following concerns raised by Councillor David Worden at a recent council meeting, where he raised a motion to lobby the government and Devon County Council to ask that changes are urgently implemented to prevent a major crisis in education.

Also attending will be Councillor James McInnes, Devon County Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Families, Michael Johnson, Executive Head of Chulmleigh Community College and Andrew Finney, Principal of South Molton Community College.

Research suggests that the national average grant is £4,636 per student, but Devon gets £290 less per student.  In the best funded areas, some schools are getting almost £2,000 more per student than those in Devon.

The government has stated their intention to produce a new national funding formula which would distribute funds fairly across the country.  However, under the new proposals Devon schools lose out even more, by a total of around £500,000.

Councillor Des Brailey says: “I have invited the MP to the meeting tomorrow and he has agreed to come along. He will be able to update the Executive on school funding discussions with ministers and how he is fighting on our behalf to try and achieve a better outcome for North Devon.”

Councillor David Worden, says: “The government plans to take £3 billion out of the education budget by 2020. This, coupled with unfair funding for rural areas like North Devon, will drastically affect the education of our students. The proposed new formula which the government claims should help redress the balance between urban areas and rural ones is actually making the situation worse in many North Devon schools. Devon County Council is also removing top up finance for small schools and plans on taking £33 per student from the budget for high needs students. The education of our students is at stake and unless action is taken schools will be going bankrupt.”

Michael Johnson, Executive Head of Chulmleigh Community College, says: “The Department for Education is consulting us about removing £80,000 from our budget from 2018/19. At the same time, Devon County Council are consulting about removing funding from our budget for 2017/18, to cover their overspending. This follows the removal of small schools protection funding from our budget recently which led to redundancies at the time. We all know that times are difficult and budgets are tight, but these cuts are unfair and represent educational apartheid against rural children in North Devon.”

Andrew Finney, Principal of South Molton Community College, says: “I am sure for many parents the idea that children in North Devon schools have consistently received less money for their education is simply wrong.  Our schools already receive less than the national average per child. As Devon is one of the lowest funded authorities, one could have hoped that the national funding formula would provide additional finance for our children. To discover that under the proposed formula our school will face a reduction of over £80,000 per annum is beyond belief. Our children deserve the same as children in other areas of the country.  We hear comments about social mobility and an equal society but how can this be the case when our children have underfunded schools?”

The special Executive meeting will be held at Brynsworthy Environment Centre at 2pm. For more information, the agenda can be found on the council website.

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