School funding boost

Why should West Sussex schools receive less funding per pupil than any other shire county?

It’s obviously not right, and I and my fellow West Sussex MPs have made the strongest case for fair funding.

The Government listened and pledged to introduce a new national fair funding formula.  When the draft proposals were published last year, we argued that the new formula would help, but didn’t go far enough.

The proposed uplift of funding in West Sussex was 2.9 per cent – an increase of £14.3 million, or £122 per pupil.

This would have meant additional funding for most of our secondary schools, but not enough to compensate for rising costs.  Meanwhile, many of our primary schools would actually have lost out.

In a robust submission to the Department for Education last March, we urged the Government to redesign the proposed formula and provide a minimum level of funding for schools.

At the election the Conservatives promised extra money for schools, and this week the Government announced an extra £1.3 billion for the next two years, above plans already set out.  

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.

In fact, the increase means that the Government will be spending more on schools over the next two years than Labour promised at the election.

The Government will respond to the consultation on the new fair funding formula in September, and only then will we finally know the funding position for each of our schools in West Sussex.

But the Education Secretary said yesterday that the additional funding would provide for up to 3 per cent gains a year for underfunded schools.

This will provide at least £4,800 per pupil in every secondary school.  The current amount per pupil for all schools in West Sussex - not just secondaries - is around £4,200, and West Sussex headteachers have been asking for an increase of £200 per pupil.

The increase in funding announced yesterday may not be as much as we would like.  As West Sussex has historically been at the bottom of the pile, we have furthest to go to make funding fair.

But this extra funding is a welcome step in the right direction for our schools.