School Funding

26th April 2019

Anne Main MP continued her campaign for additional government support for schools and teachers yesterday in Parliament. After months of campaigning, the St Albans MP was successful in securing a full debate in the main chamber of the House of Commons. Mrs Main rallied support for her debate across all parties and yesterday she was able to lead the debate and shine a spotlight on the pressures schools, both nationally and in St Albans, are facing at the moment.

The debate was extremely well attended, and time-limits had to be imposed on speeches to allow every MP present to have their say. In total, over 30 MPs spoke during the debate on the need for additional support for schools.

“This funding crisis needs addressing”, said Mrs Main during her speech. “The pressures facing schools are widely known across the House and in the Department for Education. I am asking for a financial settlement to reflect the extra strain on the budget, and a funding formula that delivers for all our schools.”

Mrs Main said, “I first held a debate on this issue in October 2018 in Westminster Hall. The concerns expressed then about the level of school funding were consistent. Hopes were high that the Minister would be in listening mode and that the Chancellor would open his wallet to find some extra funds.” The St Albans MP continued, “I could simply dust off my October speech, because I know from the feedback I have heard nationally and locally that nothing has significantly changed. The same Minister is with us today, and I hope that he does not just dust off his October speech, because quite frankly it was not helpful at the time.”

Anne spoke about many issues facing schools during her speech. She spoke of staffing pressures and the mounting workload staff are now having to take on. Mrs Main also spoke about the impact budget restraints are having on special educational needs children and the limitations on services being offered for SEND children. Her speech also covered the additional services schools now perform that were previously provided by other public agencies including health and local authorities.

During her speech, Anne also raised examples of funding pressures that headteachers in St Albans have had to cope with. Additional money being directed to building maintenance, staff insurance costs and inability to plan school finances long-term were all raised with the Minister.

In his response, the schools minister Nick Gibb said, “I listened carefully to the excellent opening speech by [Anne Main MP], who has raised the issue of school funding, both for her constituency’s schools and nationally, on many occasions, including in Westminster Hall debates recently and again today. I am sure that the Treasury will also have heard what she had to say today.

“I can give her the assurances she seeks that the Secretary of State and I are both working hard to prepare our spending review bid for when that process starts later in the year.”

Following the debate, Mrs Main said:

“The debate goes to show the strength of feeling on this issue, from all parties. I think the Minister acknowledged that more money is needed, and our schools and teachers need to see more support from the government.

“The Minister’s tone was more conciliatory than before, and he has committed to pressing the Chancellor for more funding. I hope he will be able to use yesterday’s debate to demonstrate how important this issue is to MPs across the country. They want to see their schools being given the support they need and that requires money.

“Headteachers keep telling us that they need the security to be able to plan ahead. Several MPs during the debate said schools need a long-term funding plan, like the recently announced NHS long-term funding plan. This could be exactly what our schools need, and I hope this is looked at carefully by the schools minister ahead of the government’s spending review.”

Anne Main pictured during her House of Commons debate on school funding 25th April 2019

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