This was the latest in a series of meetings MPs have held with Ministers. It was interventions from West Sussex MPs that helped ensure the Conservative commitment to reviewing the school funding formula is being implemented with a consultation on the new system imminent.
This was however the first occasion on which Head Teachers were able to emphasise directly to the Minister how vital they believe it is that fairer funding is implemented and that either the changes take place with the minimum of delay or interim funding is established to bridge to the new formula.
Jules White, Head Teacher of Tanbridge House School, Horsham stated; “We were pleased to have the opportunity to state the case for a much improved long term funding formula. To that end, we were able to echo the long held views of school leaders and local MPs that any formula must provide a much fairer deal for every pupil in West Sussex. The Minister confirmed that a consultation will be launched very soon on a new formula which should be fairer and more transparent for every child in England. This should greatly help every child in West Sussex.
“We also raised the key point relating to substantial interim funding for West Sussex schools. In particular, our concerns relating to staffing levels and the need to be able to invest adequately in bare essentials such as books, equipment and computers were made. We also made powerful points relating to some brand new cost pressures that are linked to unfunded pension and national insurance contributions. These have pushed all of our budgets to breaking point.
“During the meeting local MPs also made a concerted effort on our behalf and we are, again, grateful for their input. The final outcome of the meeting is, however, uncertain. We are pleased that the Minister agreed to consider our request for interim funding in more detail, but no final decision was made.”
Jeremy Quin MP commented; “With the Members of Parliament and Head Teachers working together a very effective case for improved funding was put forward. Whilst we have already succeeded in getting the funding formula reviewed, it was useful to be able to reinforce why this is so necessary. It is clearly a tough ask for additional extra funding to bridge through to the new formula, given the tightness of Government finance at present. However a formidable case has been made, MPs will continue to push for the best possible result and the Minster has promised to look carefully into the request.”
After the meeting Sir Nicholas tweeted; “Useful meeting between the Education Minister, Heads and local MPs on future funding and serious transition issues. Powerful casework to do.”