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Extra £5m school funding for Worcestershire is not enough, say MPs
WORCESTER MP Robin Walker has railed against unfair school funding - saying the whole county has had "precious little" help for far too long.
During a passionate debate in parliament today, he said after "fighting for so long" the extra £5 million promised to Worcestershire schools next year is "a down payment, a first step" towards a better system.
He also admitted Worcestershire has "not done as well as might have been hoped" because the cash is only an uplift of 1.7 per cent.
Mr Walker secured a Westminster Hall debate this morning with fellow MPs about the current schools funding system.
For decades Worcestershire has languished near the bottom of the country's funding league table, standing 145th out of 151.
The Coalition Government is currently running a consultation with schools over the situation, and in March agreed to hand out £350 million of extra funds from April 2015, including £4.9 million for Worcestershire.
Mr Walker said he has met every single primary school head in Worcester, including some when he was a parliamentary candidate before 2010, and all of them have "railed at the unfairness" of the system.
He said the extra £5 million must be celebrated, but admitted it was only an initial step forward.
Mr Walker is part of the f40 campaign group, a lobbying body of teachers, parents and MPs which has been calling for change.
He said: "The f40 campaign has been running since the (John) Major government, but this is the first time in all those years it can celebrate a decisive monetary step towards fairer funding.
"The last Labour government accepted the system was unfair, non-transparent and in need of reform, but it didn't have the time to deliver on a consultation for a fairer system.
"The Coalition has already delivered on a consultation and committed to a fairer, more transparent formula."
During the debate he said the f40 had won "plaudits not pennies" prior to the Government's decision to offer schools an extra £350 million, and was glad of the shift to today's change.
He said Worcestershire's extra cash must be seen a "first major step forward" but wants to see more changes after the consultation.
He was backed up by Sir Peter Luff, MP for Mid-Worcestershire, who called it "only an initial breakthrough".
During the debate several MPs stood up to applaud Mr Walker for his campaigning on it.
He was also challenged by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, who said Staffordshire has not got an extra penny despite being 12th from bottom of the league table.
Several f40 areas got cash uplifts of six per cent from the Government in March's announcement.
The consultation will lead to a new funding formula designed to even out the unfairness.
After the debate Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire said: "The steps the Government have made on fairer school funding, the pupil premium and free school meals represent real progress in the right direction, but there's more to do and we need a long-term economic plan that allows us to continue to increase the funding for our schools in the future."
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