RURAL AFFAIRS CHAMPION RORY STEWART HAILS FAIR-FUNDING BREAKTHROUGH FOR CUMBRIA’S SCHOOLS

Following a long-running campaign in which he has lobbied government
to adopt a fairer funding formula for rural schools, Rory Stewart MP –
who is also Minister for Rural Affairs in DEFRA, and a champion for
rural-proofing of government policy – has hailed today’s news of a
consultation into fairer school-funding as a “significant
breakthrough”.

Proposals outlined today by Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for
Education, aim to provide a basic amount of cash per pupil, additional
money for extra needs, including deprivation, low prior attainment and
English as an additional language. Importantly, funding will also be
allocated based on school costs, including schools serving rural
communities. The present system can see a school in one part of the
country receive much more money than another elsewhere, despite having
the same number of pupils.

Rory Stewart said: “This is a significant breakthrough, recognised
today by the Prime Minister himself as a great result. The argument
for fair funding has been an incredibly important one in Penrith and
The Border, and indeed in Cumbria, where we have seen schools right
across the county making sensible and justifiable cases for a formula
that recognises our unique needs. This is not simply about what
happens in the classroom. Our rural schools are cores of our
community: children and young families bring life to our villages. We
have lost far too many rural schools over the last decades. And
schools with very few students are always in a tight financial
situation. I feel the government’s move shows flexibility and
imagination, and is a good sign that they are listening to rural
communities.”

In addition, it is proposed that all schools are set to receive their
money directly, rather than via the local authority.

Commenting on the proposals, Secretary of State Nicky Morgan said: “We
want every school in England to get the funding it deserves, so that
all children – whatever their background and wherever they live in the
country – get a great education. The introduction of a national
funding formula from 2017-18 will see the biggest step towards fairer
funding in over a decade – ensuring that pupils get funding that
genuinely matches their need. It will also ensure that pupils from
disadvantaged backgrounds continue to receive significant additional
funding to overcome entrenched barriers to their success. This is a
key part of our core mission to extend opportunity to all children and
provide educational excellence in all parts of the country: rural and
urban, shire and metropolitan, north and south.”

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