Fair Funding for Gloucestershire Schools

For more than a generation our schools have received significantly less funding per pupil than metropolitan cities. Why?

Because other cities were judged to have more deprivation. It wasn’t really true: Gloucester has suffered from being a relatively poor city in a relatively rich county – and during the last government that gap between well and poorly funded areas widened considerably, to our disadvantage.

Gloucestershire is the sixteenth lowest funded authority in the country and now receives £4,661 per pupil while the City of London receives £9,373. That gives metropolitan educated children a huge potential advantage, and I’m campaigning to start closing the gap so that over time pupils in Gloucester get the same basic funding as pupils in Bristol or London.

Cash isn’t everything – an inspirational teacher counts for more – but it is important. This issue affects pupils throughout out county, so all the Gloucestershire MPs are together on this, as are those from the lowest funded other 39 areas (including most of the SW). A coalition of MPs is much more likely to succeed than an individual, which is why I had about 20 MPs in a debate in my name. You can see the debate transcript here.

I highlighted that:

  • Very few people understand how schools are funded
  • The most simple funding method would be to spend the same amount on each child’s education across the land – and then add a deprivation element (called the Pupil Premium), which is based on the numbers of children on free school meals. This Government has given us the second bit – now it needs to work on the first
  • Education Secretary Michael Gove agrees totally. He has just changed the way that LOCAL funding works (e.g. reducing 37 variables to 10, making sure councils get money to the schools more efficiently and other important admin changes)
  • But he currently says there isn’t enough money to introduce a new NATIONAL formula and start closing the funding gap before the next Parliament
  • I believe it would not be hugely expensive to make a start on doing so BEFORE 2015, even though the cost of our debt and the plan to reduce the budget deficit is the most critical thing, so I will continue to urge the Government to consider that extra step.
  • “We’re looking,” I concluded, “…for financial change to show that this long, 20-year inequality will finally be tackled.”

In December 2015, I presented a petition to the government signed by 1,335 residents of Gloucester that believed that our students deserved fair funding. You can see a video of this here. I’m very grateful to everyone that signed. The government is now developing a new fair funding formula starting with a consultation of our views.

I look forward to seeing the outcome that should equal more funds for our students.