Improving Education Standards

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:53 pm on 29th November 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 12:53 pm, 29th November 2018

The hon. Lady makes a fair point. I am a pragmatist. I accept that schools in Stafford will receive less than schools in London, Birmingham or Stoke-on-Trent, but it should not be that much less. I accept that there are variations across the country that need to be taken into account, and that we cannot have an absolute hard and fast rule, but I also recognise the problems the Government face, because 650 MPs will be claiming to have special circumstances. We need to have some rules somewhere, but we also need some flexibility. Given that we all pay tax and national insurance at the same rate, certainly in England, it seems similar to the situation with healthcare. By the way, the discrepancies in healthcare are much, much greater— my clinical commissioning group has a discrepancy of £400 per head compared with some of the highest-funded CCGs in the country, and that is on a much lower level per head than education, so the percentage discrepancy is much greater. There should not be huge discrepancies in funding for public services. There will be discrepancies, but they must be modest and moderate.

I recognise the additional pressures that teachers and schools currently face, and I want to mention areas other than finance, because it is not all about money. The pressures include, for instance, the pressure of social media both on teachers and on students and pupils in schools and colleges. Teachers are sometimes anonymously attacked through social media, and they have to put up with stuff that we in this House are perhaps used to, but that they should not have to put up with in any way, shape or form.

I am glad that some schools in my constituency have taken to banning smartphones, and I think that ban should be universal in schools. President Macron, whom the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs quoted in French earlier this morning, has a very good policy in which he proposes to ban smartphones from primary and middle schools in France. I think all schools should consider such a ban.