For the past 14 years, I’ve championed the need for a fairer funding settlement for Stockport’s schools. You see the problem is that funding is predicated on a baseline for all pupils, with extra money going to Local Education Authorities to take things like social deprivation and special needs into account.
Now on the face of it, that sounds fair; but in practice it means that a child living in the Stockport part of my constituency gets less funding than a child living in the Tameside part – and both children get less funding than a child just over the border in Manchester.
Now the argument is that Stockport, as a borough, is less deprived and has fewer social needs than other areas, which up to a point is correct. However some parts of Stockport that I represent, are as, or more, deprived than my bits of Tameside. So why should a Reddish child get less funding than a child growing up in Haughton Green or in the Dukinfield Central Estate? They shouldn’t.
But things have just got a lot worse for Reddish children, because, in addition to the baseline funding being less to start with, this Tory Government has made a massive £6.4 million cut to the annual budgets across all of Stockport’s schools compared to 2015 (and that’s £699,624 less funding this year in the schools in the Reddish North and Reddish South Wards).
Across England there’s been £2.8 billion cuts to school budgets. As a result teacher numbers are falling and class sizes are rising again.
Facts are facts. Looking at some of the schools in my constituency it shows how bad the problem is:
Vale View Primary, where there’s now a suggestion of closing early on a Friday to save money, will have £82,142 less in 2020 compared to 2015, that’s a per-pupil cut of £169; at St Elisabeth’s Primary, it’s even worse with an annual reduction of £103,796 or a £412 per-pupil cut; and at Reddish Vale High, they’ve been hit with a £230,520 reduction, or a £263 per-pupil cut. This isn’t sustainable.
We need a fundamental transformation to our education system and that’s why we need a Labour Government to deliver a new National Education Service. We need genuinely fairer funding formula so that children living in areas like Reddish – tucked away in a more prosperous borough overall – do not lose out financially.