MPs welcome shake-up in funding for schools

Kidderminster Shuttle: 'WELCOME FUNDING': Mark Garnier. 'WELCOME FUNDING': Mark Garnier.

MEMBERS of Parliament for Wyre Forest and Hartlebury have welcomed a £5 million fairer funding boost to Worcestershire's schools - saying it will help correct an "historical injustice".

Conservatives Mark Garnier, for Wyre Forest and Mid-Worcestershire's Sir Peter Luff praised the "major step" for the county's education system which will see, from April, 2015, Worcestershire receive a £5 million share of an extra £350 million being dished out by the Government across the UK's worst-funded areas. Wyre Forest schools should see a 1.7 per cent increase - £71 per pupil.

Worcestershire County Council is currently the 145th worst-funded local education authority in Britain out of 151, receiving an average of £5,100 a pupil every year. Sir Peter said he had been campaigning for a quarter of a century to redress the imbalance, which sees schools just under 40 miles away from Kidderminster in Birmingham receive, on average, £1,333 more per head each year.

Mr Garnier, who is a member of the F40 group which represents England's lowest-funded councils, said: "This extra money represents a step forward in the campaign for a fairer school funding system.

"The F40 group has been campaigning for many years to address the outdated system of funding, which was confusing and led to extreme unfairness, with pupils in Worcestershire receiving much less funding per pupil than neighbouring areas."

He added: "The group will continue to campaign and push for a fairer funding system to ensure children across Wyre Forest get the best deal."

Mr Garnier had previously told The Shuttle if Kidderminster school Baxter College, for example, was moved to London's Tower Hamlets, doing the same job, it would receive £3 million a year more.

Sir Peter added: "Schools in Worcestershire have been underfunded for too long because of a random and unfair funding system successive Governments have used to allocate money to schools. It has been a running sore locally for decades.

"This outcome proves if you at first don't succeed, then in politics you really must try, try and try again."

Meanwhile, Cleobury Mortimer's MP Philip Dunne welcomed news the new formula would result in Shropshire receiving £8.9 million of extra funding in 2015/16, meaning per-pupil funding in the county will rise from £4,112 currently to £4,368.

The Government's minimum funding level will now be based on five pupil characteristics - a basic per-pupil amount, youngsters who are from deprived backgrounds, students who have been looked after, pupils with low attainment before starting at either primary or secondary school and those who speak English as an additional language.

There will also be a minimum funding level for small schools serving rural areas.

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