If there’s one thing I went into politics to achieve it was to improve the life chances of children here in Redditch and across the country. The best way of doing that is through education.

Every child, no matter their background, deserves a great education. We’re lucky enough here in Redditch to have some outstanding schools which are setting our children up for a bright future.

In 2017, Oftsed’s Annual Report for Education and Skills showed found 88% of primary schools and 96% of secondary schools are now rated as good or outstanding in Worcestershire. These aren’t just dry stats; these stats actually mean something. They mean more children are receiving an excellent education which will help them get onto their college or university course, or to start their apprenticeship.

  • We have reformed GCSEs and A levels and achieved our highest ever score in primary reading in the most recent international tests.
  • There are 10,000 more teachers and 49,000 more teaching assistants in our schools.
  • We’ve added 825,000 new school places and we will add 1 million more this decade.
  • And since 2011, we have closed the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils by around 13% at KS2 and nearly 10% at GCSE.
  • There are now 163,000 more 6-year-olds on track to become fluent readers compared to 2012, when the phonics screening check was introduced.
  • The gap between disadvantaged pupils and others at key stage 2, measured using the disadvantage gap index, has narrowed by 13% since 2011.

We have made a lot of progress in improving our education system since 2010:

I’m acutely aware of the pressures on school budgets here in Redditch. I meet regularly with head teachers and parents and understand the concerns on the front line.I recognise the challenges they face, despite a fairer funding formula being introduced by the Conservative Government.

I am consistently lobbying the Treasury for a fairer funding settlement for our schools in Redditch and to end historic funding inequality, as well as for a more generous overall settlement. I look forward to the Spending Review where we can address these important concerns.

The core funding underpinning the new national funding formula rose from almost £41 billion in 2017-18 to £42.4 billion in 2018-19 and will rise to £43.5 billion in 2019-20. The fairer funding formula for schools gives an indicative additional £2 million across all Redditch schools, with no school seeing any budget reductions.

UK spending is also high by international standards, as the2018 edition of the OECD’s ‘Education at a Glance’ shows. For example:

  • In 2015 (the latest year for which the analysis is available), the UK spent as much, or more, per pupil, on primary and secondary state education as any country in the G7, apart from the United States.
  • Among G7 countries, the UK spent the highest percentage of GDP on state spending on primary and secondary education in 2015 (3.8%), and we were above both the OECD and EU22 averages (3.2% and 3.0% respectively).

There have also been other important announcements recently which you may have missed:

Teachers’ pay grant: In addition to the money schools are receiving through the national funding formula, we are providing £508 million over two years to help schools with the cost of a teachers’ pay rise (the largest in almost ten years) – the difference between the 1% increase schools would have been budgeting for, and the higher award the department set (3.5% main pay range, 2% upper range and 1.5% leadership range).

Teachers’ pensions: Additionally, we propose to cover for state schools and FE providers who are obliged to offer the Teachers’ Pension Scheme the increased costs of pension contributions, which underpin one of the most generous pension schemes in the country – an important part of the remuneration package for teachers. We have recently closed a public consultation on this, where we invited evidence relating to the impact on all sectors covered by the TPS, in advance of determining final funding arrangements in due course.

Capital funding: At Budget the Chancellor announced an additional £400 million this year for capital projects in schools and other eligible institutions. We  announced final allocations for individual institutions at the end of January and payments were made at the start of February. 

High needs: In December, we announced a further £250 million funding for high needs over this year and the next, recognising the particular concerns that have been raised about the costs of making provision for children and young people with the most complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).We also announced an additional £100 million to provide the specialist facilities that children and young people with SEND need, bringing the total investment of capital funding to £365 million between 2018 and 2021. We know that the additional funding, on its own, is not the only solution, which is why at the same time we announced:

  • funding for more Educational Psychologists;
  • in-depth research on the impacts of different types of provision and a new SEND leadership board to improve commissioning;
  • evidence-gathering on the financial incentives in current arrangements, in particular on the operation and use of mainstream schools’ notional SEN budget, which pays for the costs of SEND up to £6,000; and
  • reviewing current SEND content in Initial Teacher Training provision and building on our existing SEND specialist qualifications.

I hope this reassures you that I am doing everything I can to improve the education your children receive by fighting for more funding for our schools here in Redditch. I met with the Education Secretary just yesterday (March 27th) to make the case for fairer funding allocation and a better overall settlement.