Heads call on MPs to support education funding campaign

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Headteachers have asked West Sussex MPs to support their campaign for fairer school funding.

The heads launched the Worth Less? campaign calling on the Government to give the county’s children a fairer share of the education funding pot and to provide extra money to help cash-strapped schools make ends meet.

We would be grateful...to receive unequivocal support from MPs and West Sussex County Council for the Worth Less? campaign rather than support for a general change to the funding formula that may be some way off

West Sussex is one of the poorest-funded authorities in the country, receiving more than £400 less per pupil than the national average – the equivalent of £41million per year.

After the Government announced there would be an overhaul of the funding system, seven local MPs issued a joint statement announcing they had “won the argument” over funding and would make the “strongest case” for West Sussex when the new formula went to consultation in the new year.

The seven MPs were: Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West), Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs), Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham), Henry Smith (Crawley), Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex), Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) and Jeremy Quin (Horsham).

Their statement said: “We will now be working hard to ensure that, when the education secretary publishes the consultation on the new National Funding Formula in the new year, we make the strongest case to improve funding for West Sussex schools as soon as possible.

“This vital change to make schools funding fair was promised in the Conservative Party’s Manifesto and has been announced within the first year of a majority Conservative Government.

“We are proud to have played our part in securing it.”

While thanking them for all their work and support, members of the Worth Less? campaign asked MPs to go one step further.

A spokesman said: “Headteachers across West Sussex are grateful for the support provided by local MPs and West Sussex County Council.

“They have helped to put the first blocks in place for a meaningful national formula funding review.

“After many years of under-funding, our school budgets are at crisis point.

“With this in mind, we need two main things – a substantial interim funding payment to tide us over until the new formula comes into effect; this could take three to five years.

“Secondly, the formula itself must ensure that children in West Sussex receive a much fairer deal than is currently the case.”

Campaigners explained the county council had received an interim payment of £1million last year, which equated to just £10 extra for each of the county’s 100,000 children.

The spokesman said: “It is simply not enough to make a meaningful difference. If each pupil in West Sussex received £200 more, our funding would rise to £4,398 per pupil.

“This would generate £20million each year.

“It would still mean that each pupil is funded at £200 less than the national average of £4,600.

“We would be grateful, therefore, to receive unequivocal support from MPs and West Sussex County Council for the Worth Less? campaign rather than support for a general change to the funding formula that may be some way off.”

To show your support for the campaign, log on to www.facebook.com/WorthLessWestSussex .

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