Shrugging your shoulders is not good enough; it’s time to stand up for Suffolk schools
Labour Councillors are calling for tougher action from the Suffolk County Council administration after it was announced that under changes to the Government’s school funding system, Suffolk faces a real-term cut in pupil spending from 2018. Labour are deeply concerned that this significant cut will lead to a drop in educational outcomes for the children of Suffolk.
Under the National Funding Formula (NFF) update, pupil spending in Suffolk schools will be hundreds of pounds below the national average and much lower than in 2010 when the Conservatives came to power. This cut means Suffolk will remain in the bottom 50 authorities for both primary and secondary funding.
According to analysis of Department of Education (DfE) data, pupil spending will fall to £4,347, down from £4,470 in 2010 and well below the funding received in both Essex and Norfolk. For primary school funding, Suffolk will receive £273 less per pupil than the national average; this figure increases to £415 less per pupil in secondary schools.
On nearly every single key performance metric, including Reading, Writing and Mathematics, Suffolk falls behind the national average in Key Stages 1 and 2. Fewer pupils achieve a C grade in GCSE Maths and English in Suffolk than they do nationwide. The difference in attainment between non-disadvantaged and disadvantaged pupils is narrowing but still stands at -5 when compared nationally. Labour are deeply concerned that this issue will be compounded by the proposed cut.
Labour Spokesperson for Education, Skills and ICT Cllr Jack Abbott said; “I make no apology for demanding that our schools are funded properly, to ensure that all young people in Suffolk have an equal opportunity to access high quality education, to protect and support the hardworking staff in our schools.
He added; “It’s about time this Tory County Council made the education of Suffolk’s children a priority and fight for the funding our schools so desperately need.
In response to the cut in pupil funding Gordon Jones, Cabinet Member for Education, was reported to simply saying: “We will continue to work through this revised formula.”
This is simply not good enough.
Cllr Abbott has laid down a challenge to the administration saying; “So, to Gordon Jones, Colin Noble and the rest of your Conservatives colleagues I say this; stop simply shrugging your shoulders and start standing up for Suffolk schools. You’ve awarded yourself an 11% pay rise so stop abdicating responsibility and start earning your keep. Get yourself down to London, bang on Justine Greening’s door and demand that our schools in Suffolk are properly funded.
“An injection of investment into our schools is urgently needed, with the impact of underfunding on pupil performance in Suffolk there for all to see”.
Under inflationary pressures, Suffolk schools have already seen costs rise with staff and courses being cut, and parents increasingly being asked to make up the shortfall for school equipment and school trips. This is a financial situation that has already been described as ‘desperate’ and ‘painfully tight’ by headteachers in Suffolk.