I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Education to drop the meaningless soundbites and start properly funding our schools. Schools and nurseries in Bristol are doing fantastic work to deliver good quality education. But headteachers tell me that the government’s hollow rhetoric of “record levels of funding” (for which they’ve been criticised by the chair of the UK Statistics Authority) is not matching their experience. They tell me about rising costs, and rising demand for support for their most disadvantaged students.
I’m hoping the Secretary of State and the Chancellor take action and give Bristol’s schools the money they need to retain staff, keep supporting students, and keep offering a broad curriculum that delivers a well-rounded education for everyone. Read my letter below:
Dear Secretary of state,
I am writing in the light of Sir David Norgrove’s letter to you (dated 8 October 2018), outlining his concerns at your department’s use of statistics in communications about education funding. In particular, Sir David expressed concerns that in tweets and blogs from your department “figures were presented in such a way as to misrepresent changes in school funding.”
I have expressed my concerns to you – and previous secretaries of state – about the funding pressures that state maintained schools, nurseries and children centres in Bristol West are under. When I visit schools in my constituency, headteachers repeatedly tell me of their concerns that the government’s rhetoric about “record spending” is not matching the reality they’re experiencing.
In particular, schools in areas of high deprivation of Bristol, and schools with high numbers of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities are particularly experiencing pressures on funding. This pressure is not being met by the government’s modifications to the National Funding Formula or high needs funding grants.
Headteachers and school staff in my constituency are doing an excellent job of delivering high-quality education in challenging circumstances. But squeezes on finances have a real toll. Schools inform me of the need to narrow the curriculum choices they offer; limit targeted interventions and extra-curricular enrichment activities, and reduce support staff (which has had a particular impact on schools’ ability to support pupils with SEND). I am clear – schools which are relying on parents’ donations to fund essential supplies are not enjoying the benefits of “record levels of funding”.
I am therefore writing to ask for a meeting either with you or with a minister in your department to discuss the specific needs of state maintained schools and nurseries in Bristol West.
Member of Parliament for Bristol West