School funding boost 'not enough', Labour MP says
Schools in the West Midlands will still be left underfunded despite a Government cash boost, Labour has claimed.
The region's schools will get an extra £175 million over the next year as part of Boris Johnson’s bid to "level up" primary and secondary education across the country.
Next April schools in Staffordshire will get an extra £24.8m, while other rises include Wolverhampton (£14m) and Sandwell (£10.7m). Walsall and Dudley will each get £8.8m extra.
However, the extra money – which represents a 3.6 per cent rise and is targeted at deprived areas – is one of the lowest funding increases in the country.
Schools in the East Midlands and the South West will receive a five per cent spike, while only London's funding boost (3.2 per cent) is lower than the West Midlands.
Wolverhampton North East Labour MP Emma Reynolds said that while any extra cash for schools was welcome, the Government had "failed to fund schools properly for many years".
“All but one school in Wolverhampton faced cuts to their per pupil funding between 2015 and 2019, and it is not clear if this money will even put the lost funding back," she added.
"Local head teachers are telling me that they have to cut back on their pupils’ education and in many cases have laid off teaching assistants and teachers.
“The new funding also doesn’t recognise that schools in deprived areas need more funding to give their pupils the best start in life, and give them the greater chance of fulfilling their potential.
“I will be writing to the Education Secretary to ensure this money is available in a timely way, and to again make the case for funding to reflect the needs of our schools.”
Campaigners have also questioned the impact the funding will have in real terms.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The biggest increases are aimed at tackling the insufficiency of funding in the worst-funded schools and this is much needed.
“However, many other schools will receive only an inflationary increase and because school costs are rising above inflation this will necessitate further savings from budgets which are already extremely hard pressed.”
The Government insists the extra cash for schools fulfils Prime Minister Mr Johnson’s commitment to boosting spending – and that schools which have been underfunded will get the biggest increases.
Schools in the West Midlands will receive the extra cash from April, taking total funding in the region for 2020-21 to £3.97 billion.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Our continuing investment in education, coupled with a bold reform agenda and the work of Ofsted will supercharge the ongoing rise in school standards.”