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Which educational areas should receive the most support?

January 11, 2019 5:45 PM
By David Green, Brentwood Lib Dems in Brentwood Gazette

EducationThe simple answer to this one is 'all of them', as all are currently underfunded. The money provided by central government and determined by the Conservative
Chancellor has failed to keep pace with the real costs incurred by the various education sectors.

In the maintained nursery sector for example the Local Government Association has expressed its concern. A third said that it was very likely they would need to close
nurseries in their area and that it would mean there was reduced support for disadvantaged children.

In our primary and secondary schools there are clear signs of the financial strains they are under. Parents are being asked to pay for school clubs that used to be free
and in a survey by the charity Parentkind they found that a fifth had been asked to help with the supply of basics such as stationery, glue and in some cases even toilet
rolls. This is inevitable when even the government acknowledges that its funding increase this year will not cover all of the pay awards it agreed to.

There is clearly something wrong when hundreds of headteachers feel the need to march on Downing Street to express their concerns about the levels of funding
The Further Education sector is in an even worse state, Amanda Spielman - the government appointed head of Ofsted - writing to the Commons Public Accounts
Committee said that 'real term cuts to FES funding are affecting the sustainability and quality of FES provision.'

How generous of Philip Hammond then to give schools some extra funding to buy those 'little extras' (IT equipment only, it seems) - so many parents will still be asked to contribute to the basics such as pencils and toilet rolls. I think they probably could afford those when he went to Shenfield High School many years ago.

This article appeared in the Talking Point section of the Brentwood Gazette in December 2018.