COMMENT: The worth less campaign that is priceless to all our children

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If you ask a child what values are most important to them, it is likely that the word ‘fairness’ will feature high on their list.

‘That’s not fair,’ is the plaintive cry of many youngster - uttered because they have an innate belief that life should and must be fair.

Often, of course, it is not.

Never was this more true than in the case of the funding of schools in West Sussex.

Year after year, other parts of the country have enjoyed a bigger slice of the funding cake for education - while our county has languished as a poor relation.

West Sussex’s MPs and the county council - which is the education authority - have not accepted this sad state of affairs without a fight.

They have battled hard to win the argument and thanks to their diligence and perseverance have finally secured a proper review to establish a new formula for funding schools.

But even now, fairness cannot be assured.

The new formula could take years to implement fully. There is no guarantee its final shape will not be tarnished by compromise. And in the meantime, the county has been offered a sop of a mere £1m in additional interim support.

To equate with the rest of the country, that figure should be £40m per year or £400 per child. Instead, it represents less than £10 per child in a 12 month period.

For that reason, in an unprecedented move, all headteachers in West Sussex - at both primary and secondary levels - have joined forces to launch a Worth Less? campaign.

It’s already attracting widespread support from parents on social media.

This newspaper and all its sister titles across the county are backing it too.

The campaign has two goals:

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.

The Leader of West Sussex County Council Louise Goldsmith has warmly welcomed the support that this campaign will bring to the debate over the formula.

Mrs Goldsmith is not only proud of the enormous success enjoyed by the county’s schools and the immense dedication of their teaching staffs; but she knows too and articulates well the importance of up-skilling the county and ensuring that every child has the very best opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Worth Less? is an important campaign.

It is not about requiring the government to spend more - merely to ensure that the cake is cut evenly.

It is not about confrontation - but ensuring that reasoned argument wins the day.

This newspaper congratulates all those headteachers who have led this from the front.

Their only motivation is to do the very best by the pupils parents they seek to serve.

We applaud our MPs for pressing the case so hard and for so long.

Above all else, it is with pride that we note the consistent and persistent quiet determination of Mrs Goldsmith and the county education authority to do the very best by the young people of West Sussex.

We hope that in January politicians and headteachers will press home the case together in a formidable alliance to produce tangible and substantial results.

You see, in the end it is a simple matter of fairness.

That is a concept that every school pupil and student can embrace.

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