MP calls for “urgent action” after delay in extra funding for Cambridgeshire schools

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly - Credit: Archant

The MP for Huntingdon has expressed his concerns “at the further delay” for funding for schools in Cambridgeshire – which is already one of the poorest funded areas in the country.

Jonathan Djanogly has penned a letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, following her announcement that the long-awaited fairer funding formula for schools has been postponed.

The announcement made in parliament, late last month, is a major blow to the county, where schools on average get £4,200 a year to spend on each pupil, compared to almost £6,000 in the highest-funded areas.

In her speech Mrs Greening said: “I am firmly committed to introducing fairer funding for schools, high needs and early years. This is an important reform, to fairly and transparently allocate funding on the basis of schools’ and children’s actual needs.

“Given the importance of consulting widely and fully with the sector and getting implementation right, the new system will apply from 2018-19.

“I also want to act responsibly by ensuring that we do not rush into making changes without being fully sighted of their ramifications.”

The conservative MP, Mr Djanogly, now says that there needs to be “urgent action to find ways of managing with less funding for a further year”.

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In the letter Mr Djanogly said: “I have been campaigning during all my time as an MP, against Cambridgeshire’s position at or close to the bottom of the league table regarding school funding.

“Many local schools were anticipating a funding lift in the next financial year.”

For the school year 2015/16 the seven secondary schools in Huntingdonshire were given a basic entitlement of between £4,306 per pupil, which was given to Longsands Academy, in St Neots, and £4353 per pupil, which was given to Sawtry Village Academy.

Longsands had 1,433 pupils for the year, while Sawtry Academy had 1,008.

However, the money given to each school increases with the introduction of the pupil premium as schools will be given funding dependent on the amount of children who are classed by the government as being deprived.

The delay for fairer funding has been met with dismay by f40, a group that represents lowest funded education authorities in England.

In a letter to Mrs Greening, the chairman of f40, Ivan Ould, said: “We genuinely believed that the argument had been won and that the end was in sight for the existing arbitrary and unfair system that has disadvantaged hundreds of thousands of children for too many years.

“The delay means the poorest funded schools having to cope with the current cost pressures without any relief from a fairer funding formula, after being promised that this was the year funding would improve.

“The likelihood of redundancies is high and with pay awards and changes to national insurance in the current year schools are already absorbing increased costs of at least four to five per cent. Further increases in costs set against a best case scenario of flat cash will continue to increase the pressure on schools in the lower funded authorities.

Mr Djanogly has now insisted that the education ministers meet with all Cambridgeshire MPs to discuss the delay.