I can walk over the border from Northumberland, which receives £5,241 per pupil, to Newcastle upon Tyne, which receives £6,052 per pupil—a difference of £809.
Teachers in some of my schools in Northumberland, such as East Tynedale, send their own children to schools in Newcastle, which can almost not spend their money, while Northumberland is struggling desperately. The system must change, and I welcome hugely the 6.4% uplift of £10 million coming next April. I have written to all my head teachers urging them to respond to the wider consultation. I thank those who have written to me, including Ponteland Middle school, Mickley and Whitley Chapel first school, making the case, and the many others who have responded.
The long and short of the matter is that rural schools have been in a singularly difficult situation for many years under successive Governments. In areas with a three-tier system, such as Northumberland, it is particularly complex because the system is focused increasingly on two tiers. I mean no disrespect to the Department for Education, but it seems to struggle and have great difficulty understanding 3 tier school systems. We must have a continuing campaign. I endorse the point that we must scrutinise all political parties on their approach at the general election, because the matter will not be solved overnight. The long journey has had many steps, but they are leading in the right direction. I welcome what we have done for F40 and I support the campaign.
We debated the F40 Fairer Funding campaign in Parliament yesterday and my short speech was here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2014-04-29a.173.0&s=speaker%3A24962#g183.1