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Suffolk children ‘worth less’ under Government funding, says county education leader

PUBLISHED: 09:57 02 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:28 02 May 2018

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education, Gordon Jones, said he would continue to fight for fairer funding. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education, Gordon Jones, said he would continue to fight for fairer funding. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

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Suffolk County Council’s education cabinet member has vowed to continue fighting for fairer funding in the county, describing the system as valuing Suffolk’s children “less than other parts of the country”.

Former education secretary Justine Greening said the reform was Former education secretary Justine Greening said the reform was "historic" at its launch in September. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Gordon Jones said that while the gap between the highest and lowest funded authorities had narrowed, more needed to be done.

Mr Jones, whose background is as a school governor, said: “That’s one of the reasons why I came into being a councillor – because I thought it was unfair that some people in Westminster thought children in Suffolk were worth less than other parts of the country.

“I will continue to fight for a bigger slice of the cake.”

Latest per pupil funding figures from the Department for Education revealed that average spend per pupil in Suffolk was £4,741 two years ago – below the £4,972 national average, and well below figures seen in the likes of London where per pupil funding was in the five, six, seven and eight thousand pound brackets.

In mainland Britain, youngsters in North East Lincolnshire were the highest with £8,722 per pupil – almost half as much again more than Suffolk.

Suffolk County Council has joined the F40 collective – a group of the 41 lowest funded councils for education in the country which lobbies for fairer funding.

Reforms to funding were announced last September which then education secretary Justine Greening said would be fairer and would see a further £1.3billion invested in schools, but the F40 group said the changes do not tackle the disparity.

Doug Allen, secretariat for the F40 group said: “The £1.3bn added on the 1st of April is a good step in the right direction but it misses one F for fairness.

“That’s because there are greater protections for schools that are better off and have been for many, many years.

“It’s a missed opportunity in many respects.”

He said that funding based on historic figures previously meant authorities such as Suffolk were still suffering today.

He added: “The national fair funding formula is an attempt to create a formula fairer across the board but it failed to redistribute from the better off to the poorer.

“We will keep on fighting to put the fair into the formula.”

The Department for Education said that National Funding Formula data that it has published showed that the new framework would mean Suffolk sees a 1.9% increase on its previous level under the first year of the framework.

A spokeswoman from the DfE added: “There is more money going into our schools than ever before.

“No school will lose funding as a result of our fairer formula and by 2020, core school funding will rise to a record £43.5billion – 50% more per pupil in real terms than in 2000.”

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