VIEW FROM THE HOUSE

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION - CHERYL GIL­LAN MP for Che­sham and Amer­sham

THE an­nounce­ment of pro­pos­als about school fund­ing made in the House of Com­mons on De­cem­ber 14 is in­tended to help more pupils en­joy the stan­dard of ed­u­ca­tion which is avail­able here, in our schools. It is also in­tended to bring about fairer fund­ing, which should also help our schools, too, be­cause his­tor­i­cally there have been in­equal­i­ties in the level of fund­ing across the whole coun­try.

Con­stituents fre­quently tell me that they chose to live in Buck­ing­hamshire be­cause of the ex­cel­lence of the schools here. As I of­ten visit schools, I can as­sure them that they have made a good choice.

The mea­sures pro­posed should help ru­ral schools (through ‘spar­sity’ mea­sures ad­dressed to help where there are smaller com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing in a large area). How­ever, it goes be­yond this, to try and re­form what the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, the Rt Hon Jus­tine Green­ing MP, called the “his­tor­i­cal post­code lot­tery”.

Dis­par­i­ties in the cur­rent sys­tem, built up over the years, meant that sim­i­lar schools with sim­i­lar stu­dents could re­ceive very dif­fer­ent lev­els of fund­ing. That put many young peo­ple at an ed­u­ca­tional dis­ad­van­tage. Since 2010, core fund­ing for schools has been pro­tected in real terms over­all, but the sys­tem by which schools and high needs fund­ing is de­liv­ered needs re­forms.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary pointed out that in prac­tice a school in Coven­try can re­ceive more than £500 more per pupil than a school in Ply­mouth, even though the two schools have the same pro­por­tion of pupils el­i­gi­ble for the pupil premium.

The pro­pos­als would pro­tect re­sources for pupils from dis­ad­van­taged fam­i­lies, to­gether with fund­ing to sup­port pupils who need to catch up with the at­tain­ment of their peer group. More than 10,000 schools should gain fund­ing over­all.

The con­sul­ta­tion which in­cluded is­sues like gram­mar school places closed in mid-De­cem­ber 2016, so we are also ex­pect­ing to hear the Gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the pub­lic dis­cus­sion about whether such schools will be able to ex­pand pupil places.

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