Brexit, Gatwick & Schools Funding
Parliament returned this week and once again we have been voting in issues relating to Brexit. My view remains that the public voted, by a narrow but decisive majority, to leave the EU and that we must therefore respect that decision. I have voted accordingly.
I have therefore not joined in the repeated attempts to amend the Brexit legislation, or agreed with the small minority of my constituents who keep pressing me to do so, because this is about ensuring that the country is in a position to leave. I am content that a sensible transition period is being planned.
I completely reject the suggestion that Brexit should be opposed because MPs should ‘put country before party’. I have voted precisely because of the decision made by the country, not out of party allegiance .
Also this week I will be speaking in a debate on aircraft noise from Gatwick, taking up the concerns of local campaigners, and on Friday as usual I will be holding constituency meetings and surgeries, this time in Barnham.
A priority for West Sussex MPs is our local schools, where we have concerns about funding and standards. We will be discussing these issues with the new Education Secretary.
However, we were surprised to see a proposed briefing by campaigners to West Sussex parents this week which centres on a comparison of our county’s schools with those in Hackney. It’s pretty obvious why one of the poorest boroughs in the country faces higher costs.
Nearly half of Hackney’s secondary school pupils speak English as a second language, compared with less than 9 per cent in West Sussex, and nearly one third are eligible for free school meals, compared with just over 7 per cent in our county.
Mysteriously, the briefing to parents also singles out various of our secondary schools without mentioning the funding uplift of up to 12 per cent which they will get under the new Formula. I wonder why this information was omitted.
West Sussex MPs have spent the last two years making a strong case for fair funding, through Commons debates and meetings with ministers. We believe we’ve made some progress with the new National Funding Formula, with £28 million more for West Sussex schools, but recognise that cost pressures remain and there’s further to go.
We will continue to stand up strongly for our local schools. However, it is essential that the information that is sent to parents is objective, sensible and fair. To read our joint statement on schools funding in the county, please click here.
To see everything Nick has been doing on the school funding issue: http://tinyurl.com/kbg7f3n.