Weekly Column

Many readers will be familiar with my longstanding efforts to secure a fairer funding deal for both primary and secondary schools right across our borough. As part of this campaign, I was pleased to be able to lead a delegation of head teachers from a cross section of Solihull schools to meet the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, earlier this week. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the new schools funding formula which the Government published prior to the General Election.

Since the late 1990’s Solihull has faced the challenge of being one of the 40 worst funded areas across the country for education and it is testament to the hard work and determination of our teachers, school governors and parents that I am reminded that the Minister was impressed by the rising educational attainment levels in our schools.

Historically, we have been in receipt of almost £1000 less per pupil than in neighbouring cities like Birmingham and Coventry and despite schooling almost 8000 pupils from those areas, pupils who come over our borders to receive their education here in Solihull do not bring the difference with them.

In recognising this, the Government will introduce a new funding formula from April. This formula will see local schools gain an average 3% uplift and Parliament has received a guarantee that no primary or secondary school will lose out as a result of these changes.

Secondly, pupils who travel from adjoining areas to receive their education in Solihull will bring with them the appropriate amount of money their individual characteristics attract. So at last I am delighted to tell you that the principle that the ‘money should follow the pupil’ has been achieved.

Furthermore, all secondary school pupils will receive funding equivalent to the national average of £4800 per pupil per annum, meaning that for the schools in our area which have been receiving as little as £4100 per pupil, the increase will be significant and in mainstream schools there will be additional money for higher needs. The pupil premium will also be maintained to support learning for the most disadvantaged children.

This is without a doubt a substantial victory for everyone who have been involved in the campaign to secure fairer funding for Solihull and I would like to congratulate all of the teachers, school governors, parents, campaigners and members of the local authority who have fought to ensure that local pupils can finally receive a fair deal.

 

Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP

 

Published in the Solihull News | Thursday 20th July 2017