There is nothing more important than our children’s and grandchildren’s futures; as a former teacher, educational textbook writer, exam marker and current school governor at two Kent schools (one secondary and one primary), I feel this to my very core. I’m also mum to three children under ten, so I see first-hand the effect cuts have had on our state schools. This is why I’ve made education one of my very top priorities.
I want our children to learn in the best schools and colleges so there is no ceiling to their ambition and I will fight for the investment needed to deliver that. Sadly, the Conservative government do not share that view and are inflicting millions of pounds of spending cuts on our schools. Sometimes local Conservatives seek to pretend that the children are benefiting from the new funding arrangements, but that’s just not true. The cut statistics have been confirmed, not by Labour, but by respected independent bodies such as Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Audit Office.
Firstly, the figures my opponents use are indicative figures which will not apply to our schools in reality. The National Funding Formula will on average raise funding by 1.7% in its first year if applied BUT that increase is not nearly enough to cover the increases in costs schools will face due to rising pupil numbers, inflation and the cutting of the £615m education services grant. So what happens in the majority of schools is an outright cut. See projected cuts to individual schools in the area by clicking here.
Many schools in Dover, Deal and the villages have seen over £300 per pupil slashed from their budgets. The local grammar schools do comparatively well in this new funding formula, but most others, including almost all primary schools are losing out. This is not a fair funding formula, this is a broken system. Headteachers and teaching unions agree with me.
I’ve worked in state schools in areas of real social deprivation and I’ve worked at Eton College – there can’t be many MPs, or indeed candidates, who can really claim to have seen both sides of the educational divide and thus really know the real state of educational inequality in our country.
Where do I stand on other key education issues? Well, I would like proper taxation of private schools as businesses not charities; I would like a fully funded and fair comprehensive school system across the whole of the UK, I would abolish all SATS and ensure that all curriculum design is teacher-led. I would work to introduce free school transport to all secondary schools where they are over a mile from a student’s home; I would introduce universal free school meals to all primary-aged children.