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Devon’s Deputy Leader calls for more cash for schools and special education

Devon County Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for schools, James McInnes, has written to Education Secretary Damian Hinds on behalf of all the political parties on the council calling for more money for education.

He says £3.7 billion needs be injected into schools and special education nationally to avert a crisis.

Mr McInnes will be briefing MPs at the House of Commons next Tuesday (May 14) in his role as chairman of the national education funding campaign, f40.

Here’s his letter:

Dear Damian,

I enjoyed meeting you on your two-day visit to Devon in the autumn and, once again, I would like to thank you and your officials for your time and the sympathetic hearing you gave me and my colleagues.

I am writing to you directly now on behalf of all the political parties represented on Devon County Council.

Since the autumn, schools throughout our county and nationally have been preparing their budgets for the new 2019/20 financial year and, regardless of whether they are local authority or academy schools, we are hearing of budgets being cut, teachers and support staff being made redundant and curriculum choice being limited.

One of our biggest secondary schools has recently asked parents to contribute £15 for their first child and £5 for each successive child attending the school.

Another secondary school with five primaries in its multi-academy trust is currently consulting on introducing over 70 redundancies amongst its staff.

I believe these proposals are the tip of the iceberg and it is vital that the Government act swiftly to increase schools’ budgets to avert a crisis in education.

I am obviously well aware that you and your fellow Ministers are wrestling with Brexit.

However, the deep uncertainties that this is causing mean it is even more important for us to invest in our young people and ensure they have the education and abilities to enable our nation to compete in the global economy.

When you met us in Devon, I reminded you that every child in one of our county schools receives £294 less than the national average – a loss to our schools of £27 million every year.

You may also remember that I am now also national chair of f40 – the worst-funded education authorities in the country.

We meet regularly with your officials and you will know that we believe all schools should receive the same core funding to allow them to operate successfully and to offer the best education possible to their pupils.

We are grateful to this Government and your predecessors for producing additional cash for education and reforming the unfair funding allocation system. But some of the historic unfairness has been locked into the new formula and we believe the Government has replaced one unfair system with another.

In short, we think there needs to be an immediate increase of £2.3 billion in the amount invested in schools to ensure there is sufficient funds to meet the cost pressures facing all schools, to allow them to operate successfully and provide quality education for all our children, regardless of where they live.

In addition, special needs education requires an immediate injection of £1.4 billion to deal with a crisis in High Needs provision across the country.

I would be delighted to meet you and your officials with headteacher colleagues from around the country to discuss these urgent and vital issues at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

James McInnes