Last week I spoke in the House of Commons regarding school funding. The Government proposals will drastically impact on schools in Burnley and Padiham which will be some of the worst hit by this plan. In my speech I said the following:
“As a former teacher, experienced school governor and parent, I fully understand the value of providing every child with an excellent education. Education changes lives, it empowers individuals, it increases social mobility, and it is the single biggest driver of economic success for a nation. It is right that we pursue high standards and seek to provide the very best education for all the children of this country.
This Government are going about things in the wrong way, however. The new national funding formula will see 98% of schools worse off and demonstrates more than anything else could that the Government are not serious about raising educational standards or about social mobility. My constituency of Burnley, which continues to have some of the highest levels of social deprivation and is in the top five most deprived areas in the whole of Lancashire, will lose £477 for every secondary pupil and |£339 for every primary pupil. In the past, the Secretary of State has said that no school would lose more than 1.5% of funding per year under the new formula. How can she square that with projections that my schools will lose 8% on average by 2019?
Even before these cuts, we are already seeing increased class sizes, subjects being dropped from the curriculum, pupils with special educational needs and disabilities losing vital support, and teacher vacancies. I ask the Secretary of State how she believes cutting funding for schools in Burnley will help a whole generation of young people to succeed.
There is nothing fair about funding that is not sufficient. How can it be fair to take educational funding from schools that are already stretched to breaking point—schools that already go the extra mile to give every child the best possible start in life?
I hope that the hon. Gentleman’s figures are correct, but I fear that they are not. My information suggests that they are not. The research that I have done shows that that is not the case.
My schools are already working flat out to ensure that children coping with social and economic deprivation can overcome disadvantage and fulfil their potential, yet those schools are having the rug pulled from under them. Robbing Peter to pay Paul—or robbing Peterborough to help Poole—is not going to help. In my constituency, there has been a concerted effort by the key stakeholders, the schools, the council and businesses to work together to grow the local economy. That has not been easy, but we are making good progress. We are focusing our energies on raising skill levels, confidence and aspiration among young people. Considerable effort has been expended on this, and these funding cuts feel like a kick in the teeth.
Education is the key not just to better life chances for individuals but to our economic success. Ensuring adequate funding is crucial so that every child, wherever they live and whatever their background, can fulfil their potential. As a nation, we know that every citizen matters in the widest possible sense, not least to our economy. Investing in education is an investment in the economy, and failing to do that is short-sighted in the extreme. A Government who talk of increased social mobility and growing a strong economy need to understand that investment in education is absolutely fundamental to those aims.”
To see the full video of the speech online: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/13f7429d-852b-4b0b-8182-5c50c7d4b425?in=17:32:28&out=17:36:25