Health secretary backs funding campaign

HEALTH Secretary and South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley has lent his support to a campaign to secure better funding for Cambridgeshire’s schools.

The campaign – led by the Cambridgeshire Schools Forum – is trying to persuade the Government to give the county’s schools a fairer allocation of funding as soon as possible.

Cambridgeshire currently receives one of the lowest funding levels per pupil in England – currently ranked 143 out of 152 local authorities.

Current Cambridgeshire schools receive on average £4644 per annum for every pupil. But schools in Peterborough currently receive on average an extra £572 more per pupil than those in Cambridgeshire. In Essex the figure is £179 per pupil more.

If Cambridgeshire were to receive the average funding for local authorities in England, its schools would receive an additional £37m a year. For the average secondary school, this would mean an extra £400,000 a year, while the average primary school would see their budgets boosted by £100,000 a year.

The Cambridgeshire Schools Forum is currently collecting signatures from teachers, governors, pupils and parents to present to the Department of Education (DfE) in support of their campaign. The petition already has over 15,000 signatures.

Cambridgeshire’s MPs have already written a joint letter to Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove calling for a fairer allocation of funding. Representatives from the Forum met Mr Lansley on Friday (March 2).

Forum chairman Philip Hodgson said: “We have had overwhelming support for our campaign from pupils and teachers – they know what a difference the extra money would make. The present national funding formula is simply unfair. The Government is planning to make changes to the way schools are funded, but the pace of change is too slow. Our schools need the increased funding now. We are very grateful for the support so far from Cambridgeshire’s MPs, and we hope they will continue to back us until the Government introduces a fairer funding system for schools.”

Mr Lansley said: “I have been impressed with the commitment of the Cambridgeshire Schools Forum and the strength of their campaign. It puts schools and children first. As a father myself, I want the very best for my children, so I will continue to do all I can to secure the introduction of a system which distributes the money fairly.”