Plans to help schools ‘must go ahead’

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Two of the county’s MPs have spoken in Parliament of the need to press ahead with changes that will give Northumberland’s schools a fairer funding share.

A consultation on the Government’s proposals to revise the formula for allocating education money to help previously under-funded local authorities ended this week.

This followed an announcement that Northumberland is set to receive an extra £10.6million of funding in 2015/16 – an additional £270 per pupil.

Conservative Guy Opperman, who represents the Hexham constituency, is part of the F40 campaign group of MPs who represent some of the historically lowest funded education authorities in England.

He said: “Compared to schools in Newcastle and Gateshead, Northumberland’s schools have had a bad funding deal for far too long.

“Over the past few months we have made some excellent steps forward in addressing that, but longer term more must be done to re-address the historic imbalance in the schools funding formula.

“I strongly believe any funding differences between local authorities should be based on clear empirical evidence – not simply because of historic allocations.”

Earlier this year, the Herald highlighted how Ponteland Middle School is doing exceptionally well despite receiving the lowest budget share per pupil out of all the middle schools in England.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, Sir Alan Beith, said: “Previous Governments admitted that the system of allocation is unfair, but it has been the coalition Government, with the active leadership of the Liberal Democrat Minister (David Laws), which has taken the first step to reduce this unfairness.”