READING EAST MP Matt Rodda secured an intervention on an Opposition Day debate in the Commons Chamber on the issue of Schools.
Labour’s stance in the debate, emphasised by the Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner MP, is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Education Secretary have both previously stated to the Commons that every school in England would see a ‘cash terms increase’in their funding. The Institute of Fiscal Studies [IFS], however, has stated that this is is inaccurate, and the UK Statistics Authority has rebuked the Education Secretary for his inaccuracy. In both cases, the Chancellor and the Education Secretary appear to have ignored the fact that individual schools could face a cut of up to 1.5% under the current funding rules.
Furthermore, the £1.3 billion announced by the then Education Secretary Justine Greening MP in July 2017 was funded through a series of cuts to the Department for Education’s capital budgets. After three years of severe cuts to school budgets, Labour’s motion offers the Conservative Government a chance to put things right.
The Opposition Day debate before the Commons Chamber today was to ensure that the House noted the Conservative Party manifesto pledges outlined above, and called upon the Government to enforce their guarantee to ensure that every single school receives a cash increase in per pupil finding in every financial year of this Parliament.
The Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner MP led the Opposition Day Debate in the Commons on a motion for a commitment from the Government on the promises made by the Government.
In an intervention which followed a detailed contribution from the honourable Friend for Ellesmere Port and Neston, Justin Madders MP in relation to parents receiving begging letters for funding from teachers, and the severe financial constraints which schools are still experiencing, the MP for Reading East said:
“We have had this very issue in Reading, and I think there is a particular problem in many areas with the loss of a great number of skilled teachers with many years experience in the profession, and I have indeed written to the Secretary of State on this.
“Will my honourable Friend agree with me that the loss of highly skilled and highly experienced teachers with many years of service is a particular issue and should be addressed by his department?”
The honourable Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston responded in agreement, saying:
“I thank my honourable friend for his intervention. Yes, it is concerning that as we know in any organisation -; and schools are no different -; when they are seeking to balance the books those more experienced and more expensive staff are often those that are encouraged perhaps to take early retirement or take redundancy, and the replacement staff -; if there are replacement staff -; are often at the lower end of the pay spectrum; not that they are any lesser people for that, but they don’t have the skills and experience that justify that higher pay bracket.”
As the debate drew to a close by mid-afternoon, the Government’s stance remained unwavering; and in spite of accounts from Opposition MPs on the Labour benches citing instances of many schools struggling under the weight of continued budget cuts.