A further response from Fiona Bruce MP about the proposed National Funding Formula for schools. My thanks to everyone who has responded and supported this. Please remember this affects every school in Cheshire East, not just Alsager. You will have seen that the Heads of the schools in Sandbach, Congleton and Holmes Chapel making identical statements to me.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Government’s School Funding proposals. I am writing to you to confirm that I very much share concerns which have been highlighted to you, regarding these. I absolutely agree that for pupils in my constituency and the wider Cheshire East area these are far from fair. Please be assured that I have taken expeditious action to challenge the Government about them. Within 48 hours of hearing of them I convened a round table meeting in my Constituency Office with a group of Headteachers, to discuss a strategic plan of action to challenge them. Early the following week, indeed at the earliest opportunity, I spoke at length in opposition to them in the House of Commons, the first MP to do so. You will find a copy of this speech at the foot of this e-mail.
As a result of that I obtained a meeting with the Government’s Schools Minister on the first working day back after Christmas, to which I invited all the Senior School Headteachers in my Constituency, and which was attended by five Headteachers, and the Leader of Cheshire East Council, the Director of Education of the Council, and two neighbouring MPs. This was a constructive meeting in which the implications of the low funding for Cheshire East pupils if these are not changed was clearly spelt out to the Schools Minister who in turn, was clearly listening. Indeed, he asked the Headteachers to come back to him, for his consideration, their proposals as to the minimum level of funding which any pupil, wherever they are in the country, should be allocated in order to receive fair funding. Attached to this e-mail is a copy of the press release which was sent out after that meeting together with an agreed statement on behalf of all those who attended to meet the Minister. Since then I have been in virtually daily discussions and meetings regarding this issue, both in Westminster and in the Constituency. I have also been in dialogue with the BBC with a view to them highlighting our concerns on news programmes, and, as a result, was invited to speak of our concerns on the Radio Four Today programme last week. Similarly I was able to help facilitate a Daily Telegraph article “Tor MPs Rebel over Cash for Rural Schools” which also appeared last week http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/01/30/tory-mps-rebel-cash-rural-schools/.
A few days ago I met with the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP, to reinforce our objections. I was able to relay to her the calculation now made by our Headteachers, that the minimum sum per pupil per year which schools need to receive in order to be viable is £4800 – considerably higher than the £4122 proposed for our area. I also made it clear that unless this figure was increased and the present proposals changed, I would be rebelling against these when the vote for them comes before Parliament.
What can you do to help? Please be assured that I am very much aware of your concerns – so the very best thing you can do, rather than writing to me or encouraging others to do so, and I cannot overestimate how important this is, is for you to contribute to the Government’s Consultation on this issue, and encourage others to do the same. Indeed, when I met with the Secretary of State for Education last week she emphasised this. Every contribution will be counted. Please contribute as soon as possible rather than leaving it to the deadline of 22nd March. You can do so by accessing this link – https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-funding-formula2/. Thank you in anticipation of your assistance in this regard.
Please be assured that I will continue to campaign in the strongest terms, working together with Headteachers from both Senior and Junior Schools in the Constituency to challenge, and change, these unjust proposals. Our local pupils deserve the same resources and backing as any others across the country.
Fiona Bruce MP