Providing our children with a good education is one of the best things we can do for them.
Thank you for those who have shared their concerns with me and I want to assure you I take them seriously. Firstly, I am pleased that 15,200 more children in Somerset are in good and outstanding schools than in 2010; achieving 5.9% more funding per pupil in 2019-20 compared to 2017-18, which is welcome. This is significantly above the average increase nationally, which is 3.0% per pupil. This is equivalent to an extra £243 for each pupil, or a total increase of £21.2 million when rising pupil numbers are taken into account.
The core budget has increased to £42.4 billion this year and is set to rise to £43.5 billion in 2019-20. Somerset has also received £38 million for new school places from 2011 to 2018 and has been allocated a further £14 million for 2018 to 2021. The Local Authority has been allocated £2.9 million through the Special Provision Capital Fund to create further school places and facilities for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. So, clearly increased funding has been directed to Somerset and this is within a natural framework of increased spending.
However, having met with many head teachers in the area, I recognise there are increasing funding pressures to deliver on all their concerns. So, I have been making representations for increased funding in Parliament. This includes: asking the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds a question in Education Questions, as outlined below:
I obviously welcome the fact that 15,200 children are now in good and outstanding schools in Somerset, as compared to 2010, but – urgently- teachers are coming to me increasingly about the funding pressures they are under, because they have more and more on their shoulders. I have just had seven schools in the Tone Valley Partnership and a raft of schools with the Redstart Trust coming to me to highlight their funding pressures, so please will the Secretary of State meet me again to understand what they are facing and to discuss it?
This was the Secretary of State’s reply:
My Honourable friend is right to highlight the strong performance of schools in her area and the improvement in Ofsted judgements. It is also true, of course, that over the two years Somerset schools have benefited from a 5.9% increase in per pupil funding, but I will of course be more than happy to meet her again to talk about the high-needs pressures and others that she mentioned.
I am also meeting with Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss to make the case for increased funding for Somerset schools in advance of the upcoming spending review. I followed this up with a meeting and have subsequently reared this issue with the Prime Minister in PMQs as outlined here:
Q14. In Somerset, 15,200 children are now in good and outstanding schools compared with 2010—great news—but, despite 5.9% more funding per pupil going into Somerset, teachers and parents in Taunton Deane are increasingly coming to me to say that they are under funding pressures. They are in the fifth lowest for secondary school funding and the bottom third for primary school funding. Does the Prime Minister agree that to give our children the very best opportunity in life we must correct that funding injustice in Somerset? With a stronger economy overseen by this Government, we can and should do it.
The Prime Minister
I thank my hon. Friend for her comments about the increasing number of children in Somerset in good and outstanding schools. It is indeed, as she says, our management of the strong economy that enables us to put more money into our public services, such as education. That is why we are putting a record level of funding into schools this year, giving every local authority more money for every pupil in every school. We have introduced the new funding formula to make distribution fairer across schools across the country. We want to keep on improving education for every child so that, as I said in response to an earlier question from my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Worcestershire (Nigel Huddleston), we have the opportunity to ensure that every child can go on and achieve their full potential.
Please rest assured that I am raising your concerns at the highest level and will continue to do so.