David Worden, Lib Dem councillor in South Molton and school governor uncovers the truth behind the so-called “fair funding” for schools in North Devon. It’s not fair and there is no new funding in real terms!
“On September 14th Justine Greening, the Tory Education Secretary, issued what appeared to be a very welcome statement concerning education funding. In it she said that the government would be introducing fair funding by putting an extra £1.3 billion into schools over the next two years. Hurray! we all thought – at last steps are being taken to give us fair funding! She went on to say:
”our formula will rightly result in a significant boost directed towards the schools that are currently least well-funded... Secondary schools that would have been the lowest funded under our December proposals will now gain on average 4.7%. Rural schools will gain on average 3.9%, with those schools in the most remote locations gaining 5.0%.”
As Devon secondary schools have been underfunded to the tune of £290 per student a year and are one of the lowest funded authorities wouldn’t it have been right to assume that both South Molton and Chulmleigh Community Colleges would be receiving at the very least the promised 4.7% increase? In fact as South Molton and Chulmleigh catchment areas are among the largest in the country surely that would make them eligible for the 5.0% increase. Bearing in mind too that students over the age of 16 have to pay £550 a year to get access to sixth form education and there is limited access to education services unless they travel to Barnstaple, Tiverton or Exeter. Surely of all South Molton and Chulmleigh schools should qualify.
Well, according to the Conservative government and Conservative controlled Devon County Council, not a bit of it. Their allocation of government funding puts Chulmleigh and South Molton at the very bottom of the pile. Our community colleges are to receive a paltry increase of 0.5% for 2018-19 and 1.0% for 2019-2020. This is way below the rate of inflation and does nothing to restore the unfairness in funding currently suffered. No other colleges in the county will get less. North Devon's Conservative M.P. had warmly welcomed Justine Greening’s so called ‘historic reform’ but this proposal humiliates him. The extra £7.5 million Devon County Council will receive is resulting in real terms cuts for Chulmleigh and South Molton while schools in South Devon are being given much more.
This is unjustifiable – where is the fair funding in this?
Justine Greening has promised schools like Chulmleigh and South Molton Community Colleges an increase in funding and yet under the new proposals they are not receiving the vast majority of it. It’s a disgrace and our Tory M.P. and Tory County representatives need to sort it out. Chulmleigh and South Molton Community Colleges have already had to shed several staff because of underfunding. Our children are getting a raw deal and it is time something was done about it. I’m writing to our M.P. and County Councillors to protest about it. I hope those who read this will do the same.”