School Funding — [Sir David Crausby in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:00 pm on 4th March 2019.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham 5:00 pm, 4th March 2019

Indeed; I mentioned just one aspect of the further upcoming expenditure and pressure. I will not take any more interventions, because I do not seem to have got an extra minute for that one, so that was probably a mistake.

Last year, I got together all the chairs of governors from all the schools in my constituency to tell me, in real-life terms, what impact the funding pressures were having on their schools. I did a similar exercise with all the headteachers. A lot of national figures and a lot of misinformation have been thrown at us from all sides, and some of the campaigns in our constituencies have been highly politicised. Simply because I put a DFE press release on my website, one head of a secondary school in my constituency wrote to all the parents of the children in his school castigating me, despite my having been in every single debate on this subject and having stood side by side with parents, teachers and others to get fairer funding. Politicising those campaigns does not help. If we are going to get a better deal, we need to work together with heads, parents and governors, as I have been trying to do.

Rather than all sorts of misinformation, I got hard information and I wrote an eight-page letter, which I am happy to give to all hon. Members, about the impacts that funding pressures are having on our schools. Shortfalls are being clawed back by reducing staffing costs, which in some cases account for 90% of a school’s budget. Senior leadership teams are covering classes. Extracurricular activities and trips are being culled, and certain subjects are being taken off the curriculum altogether. In one school, teaching assistant support has been reduced by over 200 hours. Higher level teaching assistants are being used to cover classes so that school cuts’ effects on supply staff are lessened, and I am afraid that in some cases, quality is being compromised. Just today, I got an email from the head of a primary school in my constituency, which said:

“We have a long waiting list of children who benefit from work with a therapist (who works here two days a week), she has had a great deal of success with children with social and emotional needs;
we are not sure if we can maintain her hours. The danger is that some of these children who could and would have been able to engage and flourish in education and society will end up costing society a great deal more than the adequate funding of their needs in school” because they are missing out.

This is a national emergency. In West Sussex, it has been an emergency for some years. We need to have fair funding now; it is a false economy for our children if we do not.