Robin Walker, Worcester’s MP and the PPS to the Education Secretary, has today welcomed hundreds of millions being invested in education. There has been a firm commitment from Government to deliver the benefits of fairer funding by 2030 and a number of additional announcements that will benefit local schools. He joined Nicky Morgan today to launch the White Paper ‘Educational Excellence Everywhere’ which sets out an ambitious set of goals for education across the UK. Having led the charge in Parliament over many years for fairer funding, he is delighted to be playing a central role in the team now delivering it.

The Government has recently launched the first stage of a two stage consultation process to determine how funding reform will take place from 2017, and to ensure that a new national formula, based on the needs of schools and the pupils that they serve, rather than where they happen to be in the country, will work. Robin has this week written to every headteacher in the city to encourage them to respond to the consultation, and to make sure that they don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to sort our school funding.

Worcestershire has languished at the bottom of funding league tables consistently, and has seen a growing gap between its funding and that of better funded areas over many years. Robin was delighted to see a further £500 million of further core funding to schools announced in the Budget and a commitment to put fairer funding in place by 2020. Combined with the previous down-payment of £390 million, from which there has already been an additional Worcestershire investment of £6.7 million over each of last two years, to help address the issue, this means that the cross party campaign for fairer funding has now brought in £890 million of additional funding for schools.

For Worcester’s schools, additional dedicated funding for sport in primary schools, paid for by a levy on soft drinks, means local pupils will be receiving double the primary PE and sports premium and therefore there will be greater opportunities for children to take their education out of the classroom and improve their health and well-being. Soft drinks companies will start to pay a levy on soft drinks with added sugar from April 2018. This could generate as much as £320 million a year towards these vital activities in schools.

Further proposals in the budget to support schools that want to offer a longer school day could school days more in line with working hours which will help working parents in particular and by extension save on childcare costs. In his role as PPS to the Women and Equalities Minister, Robin has welcomed the fact that this will do a lot to help with women returning to work after maternity leave because they can work more normal hours and resume career progression easier. 25% of secondary schools will be able to opt in to a longer school day from September 2017 so that they can offer a wider range of activities for pupils. There will be up to £285 million a year made available to pay for this.

Plans to support extended school hours and increase the teaching of maths for those studying until they are 18 will help to ensure that the next generation are more literate and numerate than the last. It is cause for concern that during the thirteen years of Labour that the generation who grew up under them were shown to be falling behind in literacy and numeracy and the reforms announced will address this.

Today’s Department for Education announcement also confirms the government’s plans for all schools to either become academies or be in the process of converting to academy status by the end of 2020.

Robin has welcomed moves to allow all schools to benefit from Academy freedoms either as standalone academies or in groups called Multi-Academy Trusts. This approach offers head teachers more agility and flexibility on how they run their schools and parents and stakeholders more say in how they are run.

Robin has celebrated the success of standalone Academies such as Christopher Whitehead and Bishop Perowne in recent years as well as successful MATs such as Tudor Grange, Griffin Schools Trust and Oasis, which have transformed schools in Worcester and helped them share resources, best practice and leadership with successful schools elsewhere. He has particularly welcomed the way County schools have worked together to create the successful Rivers Academy Trust, which he helped to launch last year and to support better Alternative Provision through the Aspire Academy.

Alongside the consultations on Fairer funding for schools the Government is also consulting on a new high needs formula and Robin will be visiting the Regency School tomorrow to discuss this; how they can work together with other special schools to support children with special needs. Robin welcomed confirmation in the budget that overall spending on people with disabilities continues to increase but recognises the need to keep up the focus on supporting the most vulnerable.

Launching the White Paper earlier today, Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP said:

“This white paper sets out our plans for the next five years, building on and extending our reforms to achieve educational excellence everywhere. Where great schools, great leaders and great teachers exist, we will let them do what they do best – helping every child to achieve their full potential. Where they do not, we will step in to build capacity, raise standards and provide confidence for parents and children. We will put children and parents first. We will set high expectations for every child, ensuring that there are no forgotten groups or areas and we will focus on outcomes.”

Speaking about the announcements in the budget and the new White Paper, Robin said:

“I am delighted that investing in the next generation was a one of the most important themes of the budget and even more delighted to see the level of ambition for everyone in our education system being raised. Fairer funding has been one of my longest and hardest campaigns but with a further half a billion investment at this budget in making it work, I am really pleased to see that the campaigning has been worthwhile. There can be no more important investment than in the future of our country and the next generation are the future.”

“I know that local schools will have a lot to say on all these changes and I know that teachers and headteachers are working incredibly hard already on supporting our young people. We are lucky to have a number of excellent schools in Worcester both amongst academies and in the maintained sector and I am looking forward to working with them all to ensure that Worcester pupils and future generations in this County benefit, not only from fairer funding but from a fairer education system for all.”

Notes to Editors:

To read the Budget in full:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/budget-2016-documents

For the Government White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/educational-excellence-everywhere

To view the Schools national funding formula consultation see:

https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula/consult_view

To view the High needs funding reform consultation see:

https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/high-needs-funding-reform

For Robin’s most recent speech on fairer funding and the cross party debate he led visit:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150310/debtext/150310-0003.htm#150310-0003.htm_spnew44

For more detail on Robin’s campaigns on this issue see:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-delighted-as-fairer-funding-for-schools-goal-is-met-in-todays-autumn-statement/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-welcomes-education-secretary-for-talks-with-local-schools-university-after-mps-debate-fairer-funding-once-again/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/low-inflation-and-rising-pupil-numbers-mean-labours-plan-for-schools-would-cut-per-pupil-funding/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-addresses-worcestershire-education-network/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=398997845711c9142662e98a63743830

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=17125d049040cd304eb731bfea717473

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=c95ca28495ba884a1f06d231f58a4c20

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=3c84f14aa1fb7539ac27a99dbdc15567

For his maiden speech in which he first raised the issue of fairer funding see:

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2010-06-08e.230.0vvvv