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School funding deal 'music to my ears', says Walker
WORCESTER’S MP has spoken of his “huge relief” about promises for fairer school funding in Worcestershire - saying it is badly overdue.
Robin Walker says an historic pledge from Education Secretary Michael Gove to get county schools a better deal before the 2015 general election is “music to his ears”.
It follows decades of concern that Worcestershire, languishing in 145th place out of 151 local authorities nationwide for schools funding, will forever remain near the bottom.
Mr Gove used a visit to Worcester last Friday to reveal that schools will see a difference before May next year.
A consultation is kicking off soon, and once it closes the Government will devise a new schools funding formula designed to even out the current inequalities.
Mr Walker said: “I could not be more pleased that Mr Gove has answered the demand for fairer funding in this way.
“I made my maiden speech on this issue and I have raised it time and time again in the commons. “I have taken colleagues to lobby ministers, the Chancellor and even the Prime Minister and I have coordinated cross-party campaigning.
“For years it has felt like we were winning the argument for fairer funding but that delivery was just around the corner.
“His words are music to my ears and should provide certainty for local schools that better times are coming.”
At the moment the Government divides up yearly grant funding using complex formulas taking into account issues like deprivation, population size and the take-up of free school meals.
But it has left nearby areas like Birmingham getting more than £1,000 extra per child, and nationally the gap between the best funded areas and the worst has grown to over £3,600 for each student.
A campaign group called f40 has been arguing for changes for many years, with Mr Gove now saying they will finally get it.
Neil Morris, head teacher of Christopher Whitehead Language College in Worcester, said: “Compared to areas like Birmingham we are £20 million behind them in terms of funding over the last 20 years.
“We’ve got portacabins at this school. We have almost become accepting of the funding situation, we need fairer funding.”
During Mr Gove’s visit he said: “We’re going to make sure that Worcester and Worcestershire get more money, and that change will occur before the election.”
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