School Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Devolution) 6:15 pm, 25th January 2017

I am going to carry on for a time because I am conscious that other people want to speak.

Both of them will see real-terms cuts to their education provision, as will another 60,000 young people in the town. Every single one of Oldham’s 99 schools will see a cut, with the average being 9%. We are meant to be an opportunity area. According to the Government, the roads are paved with educational opportunity gold. They say that they have recognised that there are issues and are determined to turn things around, so we should welcome the investment of £16 million. Unfortunately, they then come and take £17 million away. So let them tell me, and tell the young people, parents and teachers in Oldham, where the new money is. How can we turn around educational attainment when the problem is so deep-rooted and the situation is so unequal—when education has not been valued in previous years and we are desperate to realise the opportunities that these young people deserve for the future? Let the Government tell Oldham how it has a positive future when the rungs are being taken from under it.

We have seen money being taken away from early years. We have seen nearly £1 million taken away from a sixth-form college. We have seen £3.5 million taken away from Oldham College. Time and again, money is being taken away. I do not resent for one second any other Member of this House saying that their area needs more money to provide a decent standard education. If they represent a Tory shire, then that is fantastic—they can make that case and I will support them in doing so, but not at the cost of children, and their families, who have been let down for generations, and who need this chance more than most.

The world is more complex than it has ever been. The skills that people need will be more complex than ever before, but people are being set up to fail under this model. I make this plea: next time the Secretary of State visits Oldham and my constituency, instead of just giving a courtesy notice, why not attend a roundtable with the headteachers and the governors to really listen and understand the impact of these cuts? If the Government really do care, let us have fewer words, more action, and more investment.