The real reason for underfunding of Cambs schools
MESSRS Djanogly and Harty are quite correct in saying that Cambridgeshire schools are among the worst funded in the country. I support their efforts to bring about an improvement because I have been engaged in the same battle since 1994!
What they probably are not aware of is the reason for this underfunding. In the days when county councils decided for themselves how much money should be raised in Council Tax to spend on schools, Cambridgeshire’s Conservative ruling group prided itself on having a low tax and low expenditure on schools.
That set a base figure which has only been tweaked slightly in recent years. What Cambs schools now get is still based on political decisions made years ago.
From the time when I was head of Hinchingbrooke School, I have been campaigning for a fair national funding formula, based upon an independent analysis of the needs of pupils and the educational programme the government expects schools to deliver. This approach was rejected by the Conservatives in the last decade of the 20th century and again by Labour in 2002.
The current government says that it will implement a fair funding formula from 2014-15. The omens are mixed. On the positive side, it has introduced the Pupil Premium to give extra funding for pupils eligible for free school meals. Sadly, its academies policy has diverted funding away from the county council, making it more difficult for them to provide the services needed by the most vulnerable.
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Cllr PETER DOWNES
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Cambridgeshire County Council