Funding gap for Devon pupils wider still

THE FUNDING GAP between pupils in Devon s schools and other parts of the country has widened even further with the latest announcement on spending by the Government. In the current financial year, every pupil in a Devon school is worth �375 less than the

THE FUNDING GAP between pupils in Devon's schools and other parts of the country has widened even further with the latest announcement on spending by the Government.

In the current financial year, every pupil in a Devon school is worth �375 less than the national average because of the way Government education spending is distributed.

From next month that gap will widen to �393 following the allocation of funding by the Government for 2010/11.

Every child in a Devon school will be worth �4,005 compared with a national average of �4,398. Devon is still third from bottom of the 150 education authorities in the country.


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Now parents, governors and schools across the county are being urged to respond to a Government consultation on how the funding system for education could be re-shaped to reduce unfairness and inequality.

The chairman of Devon Association of Governors, Don Paterson, said: "This is a particularly timely moment to alert parents and families in Devon to the problems that schools are likely to face maintaining a quality education for their children in the future. We do not dispute for a moment that the Government has put more money into education since 1997, but percentage increases in school funding merely means that the gap is widening all the time between Devon schools and their better-funded colleagues in other parts of the country. As we approach the General Election we want all of our MPs and prospective MPs to back our case and speak up for Devon's schools as the formula for funding is reviewed."

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Holsworthy Community College principal David Fitzsimmons, who is chairman of the Devon Association of Secondary Heads, said: "Historically education authorities in London and the South East have been given more Government funding because the cost of living was judged to be higher. But staff costs account for around 80 per cent of a school's running costs.

It costs roughly the same to employ a teacher anywhere in the country because of the national pay scales. Books and equipment cost the same. So do most of the running costs of a school. And in Devon many remote schools have to pay more for such services as broadband because of their distance from the main hub. The Government appears to accept rural primaries need more funding because of the problems of operating in a sparsely populated area but does not accept this applies to secondary schools too when they serve much wider catchment areas.

"I believe we need a completely fresh look at the cost of schooling in Devon before any minimum funding guarantee is applied. If historical allocations are used as a starting point then we will just remain at the bottom of the pile. It's patently obvious no Government is going to be able to increase the size of the cake in the immediate future, because of our economic situation, so we have to make sure it is more fairly divided."

Responses to the Government's consultation can be made at www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/

Headteachers, governors, teachers and parents in Devon launched a campaign last year calling on the Government to give education in the county a fair deal.

The Hands Up for Fairer School Funding campaign says Devon is one of the worst funded education authorities in the country and has set up a petition calling for fairer school funding for Devon on the Number 10 website.

Supporters can view and sign the petition at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/handsup4schools/

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