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Worcestershire pupils among country's worst funded
‘GIVE schools across Worcestershire a better deal’ – that was the message from angry council chiefs, who said there is “no justification” for a funding gap which sees pupils in the county the 146th worst-funded in the country.
Now, Worcestershire County Council has called upon the Department for Education to offer the “same basic funding” to all pupils in a hard-hitting motion.
At the moment, there is a funding gap of £987 between government funding to pupils in Worcestershire and nearby Birmingham, due to a complicated formula designed to even out inequalities.
Education secretary Michael Gove has pledged to launch a new formula next year, and County Hall called on the new measure to make a real difference.
During a full council meeting, politicians backed the motion, which stated:
* There is “no justification” for Worcestershire’s schools being so badly funded.
* “Basic funding” to each pupil, excluding certain intricacies like deprivation and English as an additional language, should be the same across England.
* Give as much money as possible to the county council, rather than schools direct, so it can devise its own distribution formula to reflect local needs.
* Avoid any “financial incentives” for schools to convert to academy status.
Councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member for health, said: “Fairer funding for schools in Worcestershire has been a crusade for many people in the county, who have been championing it for many years.
“In my view it’s an absolute scandal in terms of the gap between pupils in Worcestershire and Birmingham, or other parts of the country.”
Councillor Liz Eyre, the cabinet member for children and families, said: “We are asking the Government to fulfil its own pledges on this – that, for Worcestershire, is the right thing to do.”
During the vote, Labour and the Green Party abstained because the Tories would not delete the reference to academies in the motion.
The Labour group said the sentence on academies does not tally with the Conservative leadership’s backing for schools which have already made the conversion.
Councillor Paul Denham, from the Labour group, said: “There is more than a whiff of hypocrisy here – both the national Tory government and this administration are pushing schools to become academies.”
There is a funding gap of £258 between what each pupil in Worcestershire gets compared to the median local authority.
It means the county is ranked 146th worst funded out of 150 education authorities nationwide, with London’s Tower Hamlets top, where each student gets £2,783 extra.
The Government has pledged to tackle the concerns and will launch a new formula for 2015/16.
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