Monday, 5 May 2014

School Funding the Taoist Way - the longest journey starts with the smallest step

Campaigns take a long time as an MP. You start with a simple idea, but the process of initiating change in a parliamentary democracy does take time. Nothing illustrates this argument as well as Fairer Funding for our schools - knows as the F40 campaign. It is patently wrong that the formula per pupil means that Newcastle schools receive over £800 per pupil more than Northumberland pupils. This, coupled to 3 tier, transport and various complex issues of rural deprivation mean it is extremely difficult to sustain our schools in Northumberland, particularly when compared to other schools budgets. I have visited over 30 of our schools in my patch and am shortly off to revisit Beaufront First School and go for the first time to Greenhead. I am always impressed by the wisdom, hard work and make do attitude of our headteachers and teaching staff.
This week we debated fairer funding in parliament. Many of the F40 campaigners spoke. The debate was led by Robin Walker MP for Worcester, who along with Richard Graham, the MP for Gloucester. have been doing the heavy lifting in the campaign. Two years ago in April 2012 we called for this change and debated the steps needed to be taken: Robin Walker MP in his opening speech on Tuesday set the scene, and explained why we are all Taoists now....

"Many hon. Friends in the Chamber today were with me in the debate initiated by my hon. Friend Richard Graham in April 2012, when we welcomed the Government’s commitment to a fairer formula but bemoaned the lack of a down payment to begin its delivery. It was my hon. Friend Guy Opperman who invoked the Chinese proverb of Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, who said that "the longest journey begins with a single step." That single step has now been taken. Many parts of the country can rejoice at that. Of the £350 million targeted at helping the lowest-funded authorities, some £172 million—slightly less than half—is coming to F40 authorities. Cambridgeshire, South Gloucestershire, Northumberland and Shropshire all see gains of more than 6% as a result of the projected allocations and, of 34 current members of F40, 23 are seeing some uplift."

For the full debate and my short speech see here: