LETTER: Pressure on state schools

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As a former Parent Governor and ex-Chairman of the West Sussex Federation of Parent and Parent Teacher Associations (WSFPPTA) who had been pushing for equitable funding for over 30 years (see WSCT archives of letters and articles), I welcomed the ‘Worth Less’ initiative by local head teachers and MPs to lobby to improve per capita education funding in West Sussex.

But I feared that, as previously, and this time against the background of increasing economic uncertainty post the unfortunate marginal decision on BREXIT, a reduction in GDP, worsening exchange rates and consequent lower taxation income that will inevitably result, any change to the education funding formula to help West Sussex would be sacrificed to political expediency to protect other priority spending programmes such as the triple lock on pensions. Thereby appeasing the core Tory over-60s voters to secure their ongoing support at the expense of our children and grandchildren’s education and ensure their future attainment and prosperity and contribution to society.

Such long term ideals and commitment to education have never been a priority for the Tories either in running West Sussex County Council or in Government. Too many of their children have been part of the seven per cent educated in the private sector, so their parents have little appreciation of the pressures so eloquently described by Jules White, head of the excellent Tanbridge House School in Horsham, where both our sons studied.

One had hoped that with more State Educated Ministers replacing the self-serving Etonian / Bullington elite that the position might change.

But reading David Laws excellent book ‘Coalition’ where he describes his frustrations as an Education Minister working for Michael Gove in 2014, calls for more equitable country wide per capita funding of education were kicked into the long grass as undeliverable in a pre-election period.

With the new Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, saying a new funding formula will not come into effect until 2018/19, increased economic uncertainty outside the EU and the proximity of a General Election in 2020 will inevitably see that promise too undelivered.

The only way of securing improved funding for education is for there to be a change to more representative Government, both locally and nationally. That process can start by seeking to replace Conservative administration on WSCC in next year’s council elections, hopefully by electing a Liberal Democrat administration or in association through a Progressive Alliance to secure delivery of vital education investment.

L. N.Price

Smithbarn, Horsham

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