THE GOVERNMENT’S schools minister has praised a local primary school on an unannounced trip to Solihull.
St George and St Teresa Primary School, Mill Lane, Bentley Heath, Solihull, was visited last Thursday by Nick Gibb, accompanied by Dame Caroline Spelman, MP for Meriden.
Mr Gibb’s visit comes amid the ‘Fair Funding for Solihull Schools’ campaign.
It is billed as a parent-led campaign group and is part of the national Fair Funding for All Schools campaign.
The Solihull Observer has highlighted the issues, including how some teachers complained to Solihull councillors that money was so tight they had to buy their own pencils, glue for books, and second-hand library books from charity shops.
The Solihull campaign is calling for all schools’ per-pupil funding to be protected in real-terms (in line with inflation) across the country for the long-term, after 2020.
The campaign, backed by opposition councillors, accuses the two Solihull borough Conservative MPs, Dame Caroline and Julian Knight, of giving up the fight after £1.3billion extra for schools up to 2020 was announced by the government in July.
They say they played a part in a campaign which has secured the real-terms extra funding for Solihull schools up to 2020. Education secretary Justine Greening announced in July a new funding formula to redistribute money to lesser funded areas including Solihull.
But, when invited to do so by this newspaper, the borough’s two MPs had declined to call on ministers to protect real-terms funding beyond 2020.
The minister heard about the teaching and learning that has enabled children in St George and St Teresa School to achieve high standards.
After a tour, he complimented the school on its successes, particularly around the high percentage of children who leave having achieved a higher-than-average standard in Reading, Writing and Maths.
Mr Gibb said: “It was a pleasure to see first-hand how the teachers and pupils at St George and St Teresa Catholic Primary School achieve such high academic standards, particularly in reading and in maths, with nearly every child reaching or exceeding the expected standard.
“The behaviour was immaculate and the ethos of the school was of happy engagement and hard work. My congratulations to the head teacher, Des Foxon, and his staff.”
Head teacher Foxon said: “We are delighted to have the school’s efforts and achievements recognised by the schools minister today.
“The school has at the heart of its work the personal development of each child.
“Everything we do is about ensuring that the school is better than it was yesterday. St George and St Teresa is going from strength to strength. This week, the parish is looking forward to a visit from Archbishop Bernard Longley too.”
Of the Fair Funding for Schools campaign, Mr Gibb responded to us in November to articles in the Solihull Observer, saying: “The fact is that under this government, there are 1.8 million more children being taught in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.
“Schools’ funding is driven by pupil numbers and, as pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will also increase.
“As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed, overall schools funding is being protected at a national level in real terms per pupil over the next two years.
“At the same time, our historic reform of the school funding system – backed by an additional £1.3 billion of extra funding – will replace the current postcode lottery which has created hugely unfair differences in funding between similar schools in different parts of the country.”