MP criticised for missing school funding debate

Jack Lopresti
Image caption MP Jack Lopresti missed a Parliamentary debate on school funding, after an e-petition attracted 100,000 signatures

An MP from the lowest funded educational area in the country has been criticised for not attending a Parliamentary debate on school funding.

South Gloucestershire MP Jack Lopresti missed Monday's debate, after an e-petition attracted 100,000 signatures.

Dave Baker, from Olympus Academy Trust, tweeted: "We are in the lowest-funded local authority area in the country and our MP was apparently not present."

Mr Lopresti, said he was "unable to attend" as he was at a Brexit meeting.

The petition, started last year by teachers in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, said schools were having to make cuts to staffing, subjects and other activities, due to their income not keeping pace with rising costs.

In response to the petition, the Department for Education said it had increased funding by an extra £1.3bn across this year and the next.

But in a tweet, Mr Baker tackled South Gloucestershire MPs over the "lack of representation" on the "inadequate school funding" in the area.

In a statement, the MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, said he was "unable to attend" as he was in a meeting as part of his "government role assisting the Brexit Secretary".

He added: "Brexit continues to overshadow important debates such as this, I believe it is absolutely vital that Brexit is delivered and I felt I would be letting constituents down to abandon these duties."

Following a meeting with Mr Lopresti, Mr Baker said the MP had "committed to requesting a meeting" with minister for school standards Nick Gibb to share the "serious concerns" in South Gloucestershire.

"Mr Lopresti has also pledged to liaise with other local MPs so that they can show a united front in highlighting concerns from across the education sector in South Gloucestershire," he said.

The area is one of the worst-performing in England for pupil progress through secondary school.

The BBC Two documentary series School looked at the challenges faced by Castle School Education Trust in South Gloucestershire.

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