MPs slam schools cash inequality

SchoolThe Government has faced fresh calls from some of its own backbenchers to "tear down" the wall of inequality in school funding across neighbouring areas in England and take steps to make the system fairer.

Conservative MP Richard Graham said school funding was an issue which had "bedevilled the country" for more than 20 years.
Introducing a Westminster Hall debate on the subject, the MP for Gloucester argued the principle of equal funding for every child in the country was one that all MPs "would happily sign up to", but the question remained about what could be done, claiming there had been a "complete failure" by the previous Government to tackle the problem.

He said: "There are many, many schools across the country, including all of those in my constituency of Gloucester whose pupils effectively lose out significantly relative to those pupils who are in the large metropolitan areas in terms of the amount of money spent on them per year."

Mr Graham said he understood there were budgetary challenges in the current economic climate. However, he added, suggestions had been put forward by the f40 group for interim funding proposals "which would improve the situation considerably" and which he urged the Government to consider.

Shadow education minister Karen Buck said Labour recognised that school funding was "extremely complex", adding: "We recognise there is a case for further reform and we recognise that, that reform of course is far harder to achieve when funding is as tight as it now is."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said one of the options outlined would cost £99 million, "not an insubstantial sum in the current financial climate". He acknowledged that the current school funding system was in "desperate need of reform" and had not kept pace with the change in demographics, but stressed the need for any change to be introduced gradually.

Mr Gibb pledged further reform, to end the "absurd inequities" stating the Government was "committed to reforming the funding system so that it is fair, transparent and reflects the needs of pupils across the country".

The Education Secretary Michael Gove, he said, announced on March 26 the Government's intention to introduce a new national funding formula during the next spending review.

He said: "Reform to a system which is so entrenched needs to proceed with caution and it is important that we introduce full scale reform at a pace that schools can manage and at a time of economic uncertainty, stability is crucial."

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