Wednesday, 18 February 2015

MPs and councillors meet minister over schools funding

COUNCIL leaders and MPs from Solihull met an education minister to raise concerns about the level of funding for borough schools.


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Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt and Conservative Meriden MP Caroline Spelman met Minister of State for School Reform Nick Gibb at Westminster.

They were joined by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council councillors Councillors Ian Courts, Joe Tildesley and Norman Davies.

A council statement said: “In terms of school funding, Solihull is currently the 140th lowest funded local authority in England with only ten other authorities receiving less.

“This means that, for each pupil, Solihull schools are receiving significantly less funding than equivalent schools in neighbouring areas such as Birmingham and Coventry.

“This funding gap is exacerbated by the fact that over 7,000 pupils from outside Solihull are actually educated within the borough and though they may travel from places like Birmingham into Solihull, they do not bring the higher rate of funding with them.

“This means that in some cases Solihull schools are missing out on hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

Mr Tildesley, cabinet member for education, skills and lifelong learning, said: “We urged the Minister to see whether individual pupil funding could follow the pupil to the school at which they are educated, irrespective of were that happens to be.

“The Minster gave us a pledge that his Department is working towards a new schools block funding formula that it is hoped can be phased in from 2016.

“Much work remains to be done but all political parties and everyone involved in education within the borough are committed to working towards a resolution of this long standing unfairness.” 

Mrs Burt said borough schools get £981 less per pupil than Birmingham schools and this hit teacher recruitment.

She said: “Teachers in Solihull do a fantastic job with what they have but the system is not fair on them or on local kids.

“The huge spillover of pupils from Birmingham into Solihull just shows that the current funding formula isn’t working as it’s supposed to.

 “Our local kids’ schools need a fair share of funding now, before it’s too late.”  

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