THE GOVERNMENT’S proposed new formula for calculating how much funding schools across the UK receive was top of the agenda when local MP Mel Stride visited Okehampton College recently (13/01/17). A former Governor of the college, Mr Stride gave a cautious welcome to the announcement by Education Secretary Justine Greening in December as most schools in his constituency would likely see an increase in funding, but is concerned that his secondary three schools in Okehampton, Crediton and Ashburton and larger primary schools such as Okehampton Primary, could actually lose out. After his meeting with Ian Courtney, Chair of Governors at Okehampton College, other members of the management team and Hazel Fox the Headteacher at Okehampton Primary Mr Stride said:
“For the best part of a decade I have campaigned for changes to the national funding formula, which have left rural areas underfunded compared to urban centres. Old formulas have ignored the hidden costs of running schools in rural counties like Devon such as high transport and recruitment costs, the fact that the county has a large number of small schools which are disproportionately more expensive to run and that many schools operate out of old buildings which are costlier to maintain. The Government delivered a major increase in funding for schools in Devon in April 2015 and the proposed new changes are set to see further increases delivered to our county. However, I believe there may be issues around how these additional funds are distributed between schools especially in respect of secondary schools. I have agreed to arrange a meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss concerns that Okehampton College has on this.”
Mr Courtney added:
“Regrettably Okehampton College looks as though it will be within the minority of schools in Devon that will lose out from the proposed changes and could actually see a reduction in funding. We appreciate that the proposals are not a done deal and are still in the consultation phase, but we have pressed upon Mel the difficulties that any reduction in funding would cause the college and are pleased he has agreed to go back to the Education Secretary as part of the Government’s consultation and ask her to specifically look at our situation.”
Photo: Central Devon MP Mel Stride discussing changes to the national funding formula with Okehampton College Chair of Governors Ian Courtney.