At the last general election I stood on a Labour manifesto which pledged to protect the entire education budget. I share the deep concern that many constituents have expressed to me about the Conservative Government’s recent cuts to the education budget. This action, announced in the Spring Budget, is the first real-terms cut in the schools budget for over 20 years. The National Audit Office has revealed it means that there will be an 8% cut in per pupil funding between 2015 and 2020.
I know that schools are struggling already to manage significant budget deficits. There are many challenges including a shortage of teachers, not enough good school places and thousands of children are being taught in super-sized classes. There is also a widening attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers.
Before the Spring Budget I wrote to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond MP, to urge him not to cut funding to schools through the new funding formula. This funding formula will adversely affect schools in Worsley and Eccles South.
I support the principle that all schools should receive fair funding. However, the proposed new funding formula will simply redistribute a sum of money that is inadequate to support our schools and provide our children with the excellent education they deserve. I believe that the Conservative’s Budget should have included extra funding for our existing schools. The focus should be on investing in our existing schools rather than new selective free schools, which evidence shows would not improve education for all students.
I and my Labour colleagues will continue to press for the investment needed to improve standards across all schools and to deliver an education which enables all of our children to reach their full potential.