SOLIHULL has joined calls for Government reform to fix the funding gap which sees Solihull schools missing out on hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of funding.
Local councillors and MPs are working together to lobby central Government to provide fairer funding for borough schools, which receiving significantly less funding than equivalent schools in the country.
The borough is the eleventh-worst funded authority in England – with more than 7,000 pupils from neighbouring areas including Coventry and Birmingham travelling to the borough for their education.
And while these pupils are educated in Solihull schools, the Government funding does not ‘follow’ them to the borough – instead remaining in Whitehall coffers.
Under the current system, the ten best funded areas of England receive an average annual grant of £6,297 per pupil this year, compared with an average of just £4,208 per pupil in the ten most poorly funded areas – a difference of over £2,000 per pupil per year.
Earlier this year, a delegation representing Solihull’s education interests met with the Minister of State for School Reform to discuss the issue.
In September, Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, visited the borough and met with MPs, local councillors, the Schools Forum and local schools – all of whom urged her to address the funding gap.
Now Meriden MP, Caroline Spelman, and MP for Solihull, Julian Knight, have joined 109 MPs from across the political spectrum, in signing an open letter to David Cameron,
The letter calls on the Government to change the way it allocates funding to local authorities and asks it implement the funding formula proposed by the f40 campaign group – basing school funding on pupil need.
Commenting on the letter and vowing to ‘speak up for Solihull’, Julian Knight said: “I believe that Solihull’s young people deserve the very best start in life, and am proud to have joined this campaign for a just funding settlement for English schools.”
Echoing Mr Knight’s sentiments, Meriden MP Caroline Spelman said she would continue to support local campaigners on the issue.
She added: “I have regularly met with Ministers and the Secretary of State about this, alongside the Council and Schools Forum.
“I will also soon be presenting a petition on the floor of the House of Commons signed by hundreds of local residents.”
Welcoming action to address the ‘unfairness of the system’, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture and executive member of the f40 group of local authorities, Coun Joe Tildesley, said: “I am delighted that our two local MPs are so strongly behind the campaign for fairer school funding, which has the support of every political party on the Council.
“It is totally unfair that every child in Solihull receives almost £1000 less to be educated in the borough compared with children in Birmingham.
“The current situation has to be tackled now.”