MP demands 'Why are our pupils worth less than Birmingham?'

By Ian Dipple 25/04 Updated: 27/04 09:33

REDDITCH'S MP has challenged the schools minister to explain to children across the borough why the Government felt they were worth up to £1,000 less than pupils in neighbouring Birmingham.

Karen Lumley issued the challenge during a Westminster Hall debate on School Funding on Tuesday (April 24) following the Government's announcement last month it would make no change to the school funding formula until after the next General Election in 2015, despite acknowledging the system was unfair.

Worcestershire school children receive £482 less per pupil than the national average and over £1,000 less than students in the Second City.

Mrs Lumley said had Worcestershire got the same deal as Birmingham it would have been worth an extra £400,000 in funding for Vaynor First School where she used to be chair of governors.

She told schools minister Nick Gibb she understood the difficult financial situation the country was in but urged action sooner rather than later.

"I thought when we finally got a Conservative led coalition we would see an end of this disgraceful situation. I am so disappointed once again children in Redditch will have to wait at least another three years before they get a fair deal," she said.

"I would like the minister to explain directly to all those children, teachers and parents in Redditch just why they are worth less than those that live seven miles up the road in Birmingham.

"I acknowledge the vast deficit inherited from the last government. But this must surely motivate the Government to address structural deficiencies in the system and not continue to the next Parliament with an unjust system that jeopardises the future of young people in Redditch."

Campaign group F40 - made up of the lowest funded education authorities in the country which includes Worcestershire and Warwickshire - has called for an immediate £99million uplift in funding for the worst funded schools in England.

But Mr Gibb said while they would consider the idea it was not an 'unsubstantial' sum given the current economic climate. He added the current funding system was opaque, overly complex and had not kept pace with changes in population but reform had to be introduced at a pace schools could cope with.

"Attempting to introduce any dramatic change to the funding system at a time when by necessity we are dealing with a budget deficit could cause very real problems in those schools that would otherwise see significant reductions in their funding."

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