East Devon MP takes school funding fight to Westminster

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 January 2017

Hugo Swire

Hugo Swire

Archant

East Devon’s MP has called on education ministers to ‘go back to the drawing board’ over funding proposals which would see Exmouth Community College lose £79,000 a year.

Sir Hugo Swire this week led a debate in Westminster to discuss the ‘historic underfunding’ of Devon schools, which receive £300 less per pupil than the national average.

It had been hoped that the Government’s proposed ‘fairer funding’ formula, announced before Christmas, would see the region’s funding increase, so there was disappointment when it transpired that the college, along with all the other secondary schools in Sir Hugo’s constituency, would lose out.

Sir Hugo told the meeting at Westminster Hall: “The chair of governors at Exmouth Community College, the excellent Councillor Jill Elson, has expressed concern.

“The school is already one of the biggest in Europe. It is certainly - I hope the minister [for schools] will confirm this— the biggest secondary school in England; if it is not the biggest, it is the second biggest.

“It has an excellent headteacher in Tony Alexander, who has done magnificent things in that place.

“The school has found savings of more than £lmillion per year over the past five years, and it has now been asked to increase its pupil numbers to 2,900 by 2020.

“It was the South West that delivered a majority for this government in 2015, it is the South West which considers itself to be a very overlooked part of the country in terms of spend and infrastructure, and it is the South West and the MPs of the South West - who together will not put up with being overlooked anymore - who have come together this morning to say let’s look again at this review, let’s get it right, and let’s get a fair deal for Devon.

“The minister needs to go back to the drawing board and look at the national funding formula again in order to get this right.”

Addressing the meeting, Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools, said: “We recognise that schools face cost pressures, including salary increases, the introduction of the national living wage, increases to employers’ national insurance and pension scheme contributions and general inflation, as well as the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

“The current, unfair funding system makes those pressures harder to manage. The new national funding formula will not only direct funding where it is most needed, but give schools greater certainty about funding and allow them to plan ahead effectively.”

A consultation into the ‘fairer funding’ proposals concludes on March 22.

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