Hertfordshire schools receive government funding boost - but is it 'too little too late'?
PUBLISHED: 11:59 20 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 20 October 2019
Hertfordshire schools will benefit from a welcome funding boost, but critics say the government windfall is not enough.
Schools in the Hertfordshire area will see a 4.27 per cent per pupil funding increase in 2020/21, after an announcement by the Department of Education last week.
A three-year pledge to increase school spending by £14 billion by 2022/23 was made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in August. Further details have now been published on how the first tranche of money - £2.6bn - will be allocated.
In Hertfordshire, £777.3m will be spent on schools in 2020/21 - an increase of £36.6m. This figure equates to an average of £4,635 per pupil - a 4.27 per cent increase.
The new programme of funding is allocated using the National Funding Formula which takes into account the size and needs of individual schools.
The government has said that every secondary school will be guaranteed a minimum of £5,000 per pupil in 2020, and every primary school pupil will receive a minimum of £4,000 by 2021-22.
MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, Bim Afolami said: "Every child in Hertfordshire deserves the best possible start in life - regardless of their background or where they live.
"The 4.27 per cent per pupil funding boost next year will mean that every school in Hertfordshire will receive a budget increase, giving teachers, parents and pupils the certainty to plan, and supercharging standards in our schools."
The new funding also includes an extra £770m which will be made available to SEND - special education needs and disability - and £1.5bn to cover three years of teacher pension costs.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has hailed it "the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade," with the biggest increases going to "schools who need it the most".
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Cllr Judi Billing, Labour spokesperson for education, libraries and localism on Herts County Council, fears that it is "too little to late" for many struggling schools in Hertfordshire.
"Any real increase in school funding will of course be welcomed," Cllr Billing said.
"But this government has such an atrocious record of dishonesty that I will need considerable evidence that it is really new money.
"After almost a decade of cuts to all public services, I also fear that it will turn out to be too little and too late to help those schools who have struggled with decaying buildings, lack of teaching resources and an ever increasing dependence on cash-strapped parents."
The announcement of new funding comes days after Ickleford Primary School, near Hitchin, was forced to close for two days due to a broken boiler, after a protacted wrangling to obtain funds from Herts County Council.
North Herts district councillor Kay Tart, who is the leader of community group Action for Education - previously known as Hitchin and Harpenden Parents Against School Cuts - said that the funding boost doesn't come close to "repairing the damage already done".
"We welcome the government's announcement that there will be more funding for schools," she said.
"But this additional funding doesn't get anywhere near to filling the funding gap that has been created since 2010.
"Since 2015, according to the government's own figures, Hitchin schools have lost out on £3.8 million pounds. The total across Hertfordshire schools is almost £108m, and this increase is not sufficient to repair the damage already done.
"The National Education Union has said that schools need an extra 12.6bn in funding over the next four years to reverse the cuts.
"The government have obviously finally listened to the concerns of parents, teachers and school leaders and this is definitely a win for the sustained campaign for proper school funding. But it's only a small win, so our campaign will continue."
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