Where is our share?

Councillor Jon Taylor

Steps to address chronic and historic under-funding of Plymouth schools should be part of Monday’s budget – that’s the message from the city’s Cabinet Member for Education.

A child going to school in Coventry has £429 more government funding spent on them than a child in Plymouth – and that’s taking into account a new formula designed to ensure funding is spread more evenly across the country.

Plymouth schools were due to receive £10.6 million extra under the new National Funding Formula as it was rolled out but a cap imposed by the Government means the city’s schools will only receive an additional £4.7 million next year and £8.7 million in 2019/20 with the actual full impact of the formula not implemented until future years.

Councillor Jon Taylor, Plymouth’s Cabinet Member for Education has called for the government to speed up its programme of increased funding now by removing a three per cent cap.

He said: “The cap is quite simply mad. It means we will always be behind. We need the playing field for our children to be level now – not in three years’ time.

“I know the Department for Education has attempted to address years of historic inaccurate funding, but how is it right or fair that a child who goes to school in Coventry – which is similar to Plymouth – have £429 more spent on their education each year than one in Plymouth?

“I hope parents and school staff will look at the budget very closely and ask ‘where is our share?’”

Changes to the National Funding Formula for Schools and high needs came into effect in April. A principle of the formula was that pupils of similar characteristics should attract similar levels of funding wherever they are in the country. But the three per cent cap means that it will be a few years before Plymouth gets its rightful share.

Schools in Plymouth have been making cuts for many years and have reached the limit of where cuts can be made. The end of the Education Support Grant combined with rising costs, pension contributions and increased demand for targeted services in schools, means it is becoming increasingly tough for city schools to balance their books.

He also highlighted the lack of funding for pupils with Special Educational Needs across the city. Only a very small amount of funding had been allocated to local authorities which did not reflect the rise in the age range – up to 25 years old – or rising demand.

He added: “I will continue to press for more funds for our schools. In the scale of financial announcements being made on Monday, removing the cap is tiny – but the support this could lever in for our schools is huge.

“We have real issues that our affecting school standards and the potential of hundreds of school pupils. Poorly funded schools and massively reduced local authority budgets limit our ability to analyse, coordinate and address under performance.”