Updated: Minister pledges funding for North Devon schools

Michael Gove with Principle Louise Miller Marshall and Conservative parliamentary candidate for Nort

Michael Gove with Principle Louise Miller Marshall and Conservative parliamentary candidate for North Devon Peter Heaton-Jones. - Credit: Archant

PICTURES: Michael Gove visits Pilton school as part of Devon tour

Education Secretary Michael Gove has pledged more funding for schools in North Devon.

The Cabinet Minister was in North Devon- one of 10 key target seats the Conservatives are aiming to take at the 2015 general election- visiting Pilton Community College, before heading to nearby Tarka Tennis Club.

The trip followed the news on Wednesday that education would be one of just three government departments to avoid the Chancellor’s scythe in the latest round of cuts.

As part of the spending review, a National Fair Funding Formula was announced, which Mr Gove claims should help to ease the issue of lower funding being afforded to the South West.

Despite being one of the largest local education authorities in the country, the area is the sixth worst funded.

“We will see more money for schools in Devon, primary and secondary, academy and maintained schools, and I think that’s only fair because you’ll have students in Barnstaple who face challenges every bit as great as students in other parts of the country,” said Mr Gove.

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“Their mums and dads all pay the same amount of tax so they should have the same amount, wherever possible, spent on their education.

“Schools here are working incredibly hard to raise standards but just that extra sense that their needs are being recognised would help enormously.

“The aim is over time to make sure that all local authorities are funded on a broadly equal basis.”

The Education Secretary also claimed that the standard of education in North Devon is improving, but also recognised that some employment opportunities had shrunk.

As well as visiting the thriving academy school, which was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted last year, Mr Gove was also offering a helping hand to Conservative parliamentary candidate Peter Heaton-Jones as he looked to kick start his 2015 election campaign.

“It’s great to have Michael here as he’s very influential within the coalition government,” said Mr Heaton-Jones. “He’s an ideas man with the ear of the Prime Minister and Cameron relies on for reforming policies beyond his education brief.

“I want to take this opportunity to tell him about North Devon and send the message ‘don’t forget about us’.”

And Mr Gove was equally supportive of Mr Heaton-Jones, describing his chances of being elected in 2015 as “cracking”.

“In Peter you have someone who is a highly effective communicator who understands the issues on the ground, who’s got local government experience and who has the expertise to be able to secure the best possible deal for North Devon in terms of money for local government, money for schools and recognition at the highest level,” said Mr Gove.

Pilton CC Principle Louise Miller-Marshall was equally positive about the visit, and urged the government minister to follow through on his campaign for fairer funding.

“My main message is about the levels of funding in Devon in comparison to the rest of the country,” she said. “Young people deserve to have as much spent on their education here as in other areas.”

Mrs Miller-Marshall’s previous school, Queen Elizabeth’s School in London, achieved an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report while she was in charge.

“In London we received £1,300 more per pupil than in Devon,” she said.

“That makes it more difficult here but we hope to achieve ‘outstanding’ in the future.

For more images of the Education Secretary’s visit to Pilton, see the picture gallery on the right.

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