There have been significant debates about local school funding issues, both in the Houses of Commons and at the County Council.

As David Drew MP said in a debate in the House of Commons about schools funding this year, there is a need to raise the matter will all colleagues as ’it is not a party political issue but crosses the spectrum’. All councillors, MPs, candidates and local government are working to press the case for more special educational needs funding and increased funding for Gloucestershire schools. The Schools Forum mentioned in the motion is influential and run by teachers.

The County Council motion in Spring 2019 (below) addresses the range of issues facing our schools and gained support across the political parties. This constructive approach and careful use of language is refreshing. It is obvious that shouting about ‘cuts’ without acknowledging the details and working together, serves nobody and mainly raises the heat in an already difficult situation.

Gloucestershire County worked together to campaign for fairer funding and we do finally have a commitment for this. However, more needs to be done so the fair approach is in force as quickly as possible. If you want to see the Minister for School’s response to Gloucestershire school funding debate, I have included the link below.

Agreed County Council motion

This Council notes that:

Nearly 20 schools in Gloucestershire are not receiving the minimum funding, as guaranteed by the Conservative Government’s National Funding Formula (NFF), while many are only fractionally above this.

That, whilst overall funding for Gloucestershire schools has increased by over £58m, or 15% since 2015, many schools are concerned that this has not covered their costs. Between 2015 and 2020 Gloucestershire’s schools are predicted to have lost more than £11 million in real terms funding, an average of approximately £147 per pupil.

The change in the ‘1 in 75’ rule (devised to compensate schools that attract a disproportionate number of children with high needs), to ‘1 in 40’ was suggested to the council by the Schools Forum and does not remove any funding from Gloucestershire schools.

This Council also notes that:

That in 2017, after more than 20 years lobbying by this council, the government agreed to introduce a national funding formula for schools, although this will now not be implemented until 2021.

Costs have risen significantly, with staffing costs increasing by over 20 per cent.

NFF minimum figures have been described as “not enough to run a school”.

It is illegal for any school to attempt to cut the number of special needs pupils.

The Council therefore resolves to:

Call for the County Council Leader to make representations to the national government, calling for:

A recognition of the challenges that Gloucestershire schools face

Recognition that the NFF minimums are not enough to run a school

The 2019 Spending Review to address the issue of school funding, such that all schools receive suitable funding.

Commit to continuing to take the advice of the Schools Forum in reaching future spending decisions.

Houses of Parliament

The debate was called by David Drew MP and was attended by four Conservative Gloucestershire MPs, Alex Chalk (Cheltenham), Richard Graham MP (Gloucester), Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP (Cotswolds), Laurence Robertson MP (Tewkesbury).

You can find out more here.

I will continue to work with my MP and councillor colleagues to improve school funding and vital changes to Special Education Needs funding.