The government’s education minister has agreed to consider a request from West Sussex schools for extra funding.
Sam Gyimah met with headteachers and MPs to discuss the need for extra money to help schools make ends meet before a new funding system comes into effect.
Jules White, headteacher at Tanbridge House, Horsham, and spokesman for the Worth Less? campaign for fairer funding, stressed no final decisions had been made and described the outcome of the meeting as “uncertain”.
The group met on Tuesday (February 8) and Mr White was joined by fellow headteachers John Gadd (Thomas A Becket Junior School, Worthing), Becky Linford (Upper Beeding Primary School, Upper Beeding), Grahame Robson (Manor Green College, Crawley), Mark Anstiss (Felpham College, Felpham), Nick Taunt (Bishop Luffa School, Chichester), Edward Rodriguez (Oat Hall Community College, Lindfield) and Caitriona Bull (West Park Primary School, Worthing).
He said: “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.”
West Sussex is one of the lowest funded authorities in the country, receiving £41million less than the national average.
As well as a fairer over all deal, schools have asked for a £200million interim payment from the government to help balance their budgets.
Five West Sussex MPs also attended the meeting, along with Richard Burrett, the county council’s cabinet member for education.
They were Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham), Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs), Jeremy Quin (Horsham), Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) and Henry Smith (Crawley).
Mr Quin said a “formidable” case had been made for additional funding.
He added: “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.”
Mr White said he was grateful for the input of MPs who had made “a concerted effort” on behalf of the campaign.
He added: “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.”
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