Neil cares deeply about getting fairer funding for Devon schools. For too long, rural schools in counties like Devon have had a raw deal, while urban schools have received far more funding per pupil.
Devon has been one of the worst-funded local authorities in England for school funding, ranked 120th out of 150. This means that each Devon schoolchild receives £290 less per head than the average for England.
Neil believes this unfair and outdated formula cannot be allowed to continue. Changing this inequality has been one of Neil’s top priorities in Parliament. It’s one of the issues that Neil raised in his first ever ‘maiden’ speech in the House of Commons back in 2010.
Since his election, Neil has pressured on the Government to change the way the school’s funding formula is calculated. He has made speeches in Parliament, called debates, written open letters and lobbied Education Ministers in Parliament. Working with other MPs representing rural areas, Neil joined the f40 campaign and strongly made the case for reform to the historic unfairness in the system where rural schools get less money than urban schools.
New Funding Formula Promised
The Government’s commitment to fairer funding was re-stated in the most recent Queen’s Speech, which Neil wholeheartedly welcomes.
The new and fairer National Funding Formula (NFF) will give every head teacher a level playing field, whether they teach in a rural or urban school - and will be implemented 2018/19.
Part of the new formula will provide extra funding for small schools in sparsely populated areas which find it more difficult to reduce costs. This will particularly help many rural schools in Devon, particularly primary schools, to get the funding they need to remain viable and give every child the best possible start in life.
Neil shared the concern of many teachers and parents that schools were seeing extra costs. Neil therefore welcomes the Government’s announcement of £1.3 billion of extra money for school funding over two years - meaning schools funding will now be £2.6 billion higher in 2019-20.
Overall, fairer funding will mean an increase in the basic amount that every pupil will get, protected funding for those with high needs and it will ensure every local authority is in a position to give schools a cash increase through the new formula.
Neil will be holding the Government to account on their promises. Rural schools in Devon have been waiting too long for fair funding. Neil is keen to ensure that the wait is soon over and that every child in Devon gets the resources and the money needed for the best possible education.