Since I was elected few issues have generated such a passionate response as the Tories’ schools funding formula proposals.
In the past few weeks, I have spoken at meetings attended by more than 500 local parents. A further 100 parents and children joined a protest outside a local school recently, and hundreds more have been in touch by email, letter and on social media.
The changes to the schools funding formula will see cuts to every school in my constituency. This is at a time of unprecedented budget pressures within schools as a consequence of a series of unfunded costs – the National Minimum Wage increase, employers’ pension contributions, employers’ national insurance contributions and the apprenticeship levy.
Schools in London have made vast strides since 1997 when they were the worst in the country. Now 94% of London’s schools are judged to be good or outstanding by Ofsted. This transformation was achieved through a combination of political leadership, appropriate resourcing, stringent accountability and the hard work of teachers, governors, support staff and parents.
London schools deliver for every child. They are not reliant on selection and as a consequence London children benefit from being educated in a diverse environment which helps to build understanding and community cohesion.
A primary head told me that to balance the budget this year their school has had to lose six members of staff. In the past the school employed one Teaching Assistant per class, but this year they have a Teaching Assistant per year, while a typical secondary school in my constituency will lose £500,000 in real terms in the next three year.
It would take just 1% of the education budget to ensure that no school loses out through the introduction of the national funding formula.
London is a template for how to improve schools so that they serve pupils of all abilities and backgrounds well. Investing in London schools has yielded significant gains and the lessons learned from London should be applied across the country. It is time for the Tories to think again on school funding.