Nick shares concerns about schools funding in West Sussex. It was not right that our children received less funding that others in similar parts of the country. West Sussex historically had the lowest schools funding of any shire authority. Nick therefore made a strong case for fair funding for West Sussex schools.
The Government responded with a new National Funding Formula, resulting in an extra £28 million for West Sussex schools which will go a considerable way towards making funding fairer. Our secondary schools will receive up to 12 per cent more funding when the Formula is fully implemented.
Nick recognises that there is further to go, and that schools are facing cost pressures. He is particularly concerned about the funding of primary schools after transitional help expires, and about the sustainability of small rural primary schools. Nick has been in constant discussions with our local schools and West Sussex County Council about these issues. Our schools should be funded on the same basis as those in their peer group across England, although we must be wary of crude comparisons since everyone is agreed that schools in very deprived inner city areas will always have additional needs.
This issue remains a high priority for Nick, and he will continue to stand up strongly for our local schools, including through representations to the new Education Secretary and the Chancellor. However, this is not just about funding. Nick is also very concerned about standards which in too many West Sussex schools have not been good enough, and he wants to hear more about how improvements will be made.
WINNING FAIR FUNDING
Nationally, schools funding has been protected and is at a record £40 billion a year despite the need to reduce the deficit, and funding per pupil has risen, but in recent years cost pressures in our schools have outweighed these gains.
Nick, along with other West Sussex MPs, made a strong formal submission to the Government in March 2017 about the issue. You can read this here. It recognised the funding pressures in our schools, and made a very strong case for fairness, including for a minimum level of funding for schools, ensuring that all schools have sufficient resourcing to deliver the curriculum.
Nick was pleased that the Conservative Party’s Manifesto at the last election recognised these concerns. It not only recommitted to introducing fair funding, but also pledged (i) that no school would lose funding after the new Formula is introduced and (ii) to increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022, representing more than a real terms increase for every year of the parliament. You can read these commitments on page 51 of the Manifesto here.
The Department of Education considered the submissions to its consultation and responded in September 2017 with improved proposals, backed by an extra £1.3 billion for the frontline schools budget. You can read Nick's response to this here. With this funding increase, the Government will now be spending more on schools over the next two years than promised by Labour in the election.
Nick has worked very hard on this issue over the past three years. He has held a number of meetings with local headteachers and governors to discuss it, he has called parliamentary debates to raise the issue, and he has met the Schools Minister, the Education Secretary and the Prime Minister to discuss his concerns. You can see a full list of Nick’s actions below.