I have to take issue with some reported comments in the two articles relating to education matters in last week’s Observer.
Solihull Council and both MPs have been campaigning for years to obtain fair treatment for our schools and remove the historic unfairness under which funding is allocated. Given that schools in some areas receive such high funding they can afford to pay Heads more than the Prime Minister, build up massive reserves and supply pupils with the latest technology, our responsibility is to challenge a system under which our schools are at the bottom of the pile and struggle to make ends meet. An increase in the national pot might be welcome but as noted by the Schools Forum, could make the best-funded schools even better off and have only a marginal effect in Solihull and further widen the gap unless we secure fundamental change to historic distribution arrangements.
.At last, with the help of our MPs we have achieved some movement from government and it is disappointing that the ‘Fair Funding for Solihull’ group seems to dismisses the over £9.3 million extra allocated to our schools in the recent announcement. That organisation has not contributed to our long campaign or meetings with Ministers and our work with the F40 Fair Funding alliance, of which Solihull is a founding member. Concentrating on national funding rather than prioritising continuing efforts to seek equitable treatment for our schools will not put the interests of Solihull children first.
With regard to a possible merger of Daylesford Infants and Chapelfields Junior Schools, the whole point of consulting is to ensure transparency and the ill-informed comments by Cllr Ade Adeyemo are quite outrageous. The decision to consult was supported by his own political group representative and significantly, he failed to raise any objection or even ask a question when this was reported to full council. Describing established policy on ‘all-through’ schools and consultation with parents ahead of any decision as ‘half-baked’ shows a serious contempt for democratic principles and seems more about political posturing than seeking the best outcome for pupils and families.
Cabinet Member for Children
(Conservative, Dorridge & Hockley Heath ward)
I was disappointed to hear the response from Cllr Meeson and our MPs in relation to school funding.
It could be possible to come away thinking that everything is rosy, when the reality is far from that. Solihull schools in total will have 2.2% increase (per annum) over the next three years, but primary schools will only see 1.03% (p.a) over the same period.
There are many more big losers in these plans, with some schools having to cope with 0.3% (p.a) increases over the next 3 years. How are they supposed to keep pace with increasing costs?
It also misses the point of the motion that was brought before him. The motion asked for our MPs to keep lobbying beyond 2020. We had a triple lock on pensions, but there are no guarantees for schools. Schools need to plan their finances for then and that means making decisions now. That unfortunately means increasing class sizes, replacing experienced with newly qualified teachers (NQTs) and job losses.
Whilst the NQTs do a fantastic job, they need to be supported and trained, not used to plug a financial hole. Morale in teaching is at rock bottom because appraisals have been used to justify preventing pay increases in some cases. Things aren’t good. The damage has already been done by many of the real-terms cuts. We need to give teachers, heads and parents the confidence that things won’t get any worse.
We had six years where things did get worse due to decisions from Parliament. We now have our MPs and the councillors from their party saying that things are ok, which I find worrying. Things aren’t ok for primary schools now and we don’t have any promises for any schools in the future.
Councillor Max McLoughlin (Green Party, Shirley South ward)