• Education minister appears to stick to his guns over Devon school funding cuts

    18th January 2017 | News | Claire
  • Several Devon MPs were present, including Hugo Swire (who called the debate), Gary Streeter, Ben Bradshaw, Anne Marie Morris and Oliver Colville.

    Hugo Swire kicked the debate off by setting the scene in terms of existing pressures as well as historical funding unfairness, which sees our schools receive around £300 per pupil less than elsewhere in the country.

    Most Devon secondaries, including King’s, Colyton Grammar, Sidmouth and Exmouth Colleges stand to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds if the plans go ahead.

    Ottery St Mary Primary School and West Hill Primary School would also lose funding.

    He did not go as far as asking for more money for education, as is required, but requested more money for Devon, within the “funding envelope.”

    Mr Swire reminded the minister that it was the Devon MPs who won the 2015 general election for the conservatives and repeatedly blamed the financial problems on the Labour government.

    (Clearly, almost seven years of a conservative led government and a failed austerity programme is overlooked here).

    Ben Bradshaw pointed out that although Devon schools gain a tiny amount (0.38 per cent) with all the cost pressures, education funding is set to drop by eight per cent in real terms, in this parliament, which would wipe out any gains.  He said he hoped his conservative colleagues present would vote against any damaging education policies.

    The education minister merely explained the new formula to the MPs and how it was aimed at improving levels of deprivation. He claimed that his government was committed to “social mobility.”

    He was interrupted by Oliver Colville who asked if it was a genuine consultation and if so, whether the minister could give an indication on whether their views would be taken into account.

    The minister said all views would be taken into account, including the debate he was taking part in.

    Hugo Swire summing up once again reminded everyone of how Labour was responsible for the state of the economy and hinted that he may vote against the education funding plans if they did not change. 

    With seconds left he suggested that the minister might like to pop over and see his colleagues and come back with a better deal for Devon. Of course this was not allowed because there were seconds left.

    As with the community hospitals debate the education funding debate was an encouraging thing to see happen.

    What remains now is that MPs vote honestly, don’t hide away by missing the parliamentary vote and actually stand up for the people of East Devon when it really matters. 

    Good work so far – awaiting the final outcome…..