Kent Messenger Column - 03-03-17
Schooling is a subject which evokes great passion and interest. The Prime Minister has been clear that education is a critical component of her plan to drive up social mobility and many of us also have a personal stake in the system through our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews or grandchildren.
In 2015 I was part of a national campaign which brought people together from across the political divide to highlight the historical injustice which exists in the current formula for school funding. This is exemplified by the fact that, currently, the 10 best funded areas in the country receive 43% more funding per pupil than the 10 worst funded areas. Kent is, unfortunately, amongst the less well funded counties in England.
The campaign was a success and I was delighted that the Government recognised the unfair nature of the system and committed to reform. The Department of Education have now published their new proposals and are currently engaged in a public consultation. I very much welcome the Government's overall ambition to introduce a national funding formula and end the outdated postcode lottery which is so evident.
The plans will have a significant impact in Maidstone and the Weald, with all of our school's budgets affected. Overall, the outlook is positive for my constituency, our schools will receive an on average 2.5% increase in their budgets and over half of our schools will see their funding increased.
Whilst I am encouraged by the overall impact the proposals will have locally, the details are not without concern for certain schools. I will therefore continue to engage with local schools, Kent County Council and the Government to assess the detailed effects and ensure the Government's reforms go far enough to redress the imbalance in the system.
I would encourage anyone who has an interest to contribute to the Government consultation, which is open until 22nd March, to do here.