MP COLUMN: Schools need proper funding

On Tuesday I spoke in Parliament to vent my frustration about the government’s refusal to back a proper Education Recovery Fund to allow our schools to recover following the pandemic.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 6:00 am

The Education Recovery Commissioner Sir Kevan Collins was put in charge of developing a plan for a recovery fund that will give schools and teachers the support they need to get our children back on track after the disruption caused by the lockdown.

He suggested a £15bn package to make up for the lost teaching, a figure still well below other countries per head such as the US and the Netherlands.

Despite this, the government committed only £1.4bn for a recovery scheme, and the backlash resulted in the resignation of Sir Kevan Collins who said he did not believe it was “credible that a successful recovery can be achieved with a programme of support of this size”.

Our schools simply need to be funded properly. Attainment levels continue to grow. Disadvantaged students are up to 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they sit their GCSEs and that gap rises up to 22.7 months for those children living in persistent poverty, and without funding this gap will only continue to grow.

It was reported last week that the North East along with Yorkshire and the Humber have suffered the most lost learning hours of anywhere in the country, in some subjects up to double the time as other regions in the South.

The government has already stolen millions from schools here in the North East with their changes to pupil premium funding. It is estimated schools could lose up to £7.26m as a result.

Here in Wansbeck 19 per cent of pupils receive AAB at A level compared to 14% as an average across England. Despite this, only 28 per cent of pupils attend secondary schools rated good or outstanding compared to a huge 80 per cent across England as a whole. 26 percent attend secondary schools deemed inadequate compared to only six per cent across the country.

Pupils here are incredibly smart and talented. Yet the schools they attend simply are not being funded properly to support them through their learning.

The fact of the matter is our schools need to be sufficiently backed financially to give everyone an equal opportunity at the start of life.

We need breakfasts clubs and extracurricular activities to engage their minds and keep them active, they need quality mental health support to transition back into school life, they need manageable class sizes to get proper attention from their teachers to help them develop their skills and abilities and we need to ensure no child is going hungry throughout the school day – all things that only the Labour Party offer.

Ian Lavery, Wansbeck MP