UK Politics

Conservative MPs demand school funding reform

Pupils in lesson

Conservative backbenchers are demanding radical changes to school funding in England within months.

They say ministers face a campaign from dozens of their own MPs unless they commit to swift reform.

Teachers will be made redundant and class sizes will increase without action, they say.

One backbencher, Daniel Kawczynski, said that "huge numbers" of Conservatives in the Commons were demanding change.

He told BBC Radio 4's the World at One: "I think you would be fascinated how strong the feelings are on this issue and the sort of campaign that is going to be pursued in the course of this year"

Conservative former chairman of the education select committee Graham Stuart said he believed dozens of Tories would want the "earliest possible" announcement, ideally in July's Budget.

'Funding pressures'

He said: "You are seeing schools facing up to prospects of deficits unless they don't take significant action to reduce headcount.

"We will you know potentially be looking at redundancies in order to cope with the funding pressures."

Backbenchers say the way government money is earmarked for local authorities to fund schools must change from next April.

There are sharp variations across the country, with the best funded areas receiving as much as £7,000 per pupil and the worst off getting just over £4,000.

Ministers said they intended to change the system since 2010, promised reform in 2013, and made a fresh commitment in the Conservative manifesto.

They provided an extra £390m to the worst funded authorities at the end of the last Parliament, but have not rewritten the funding formula.

The move would almost certainly see well funded inner city authorities lose money, while some rural areas would be winners.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "The last government made considerable progress in reforming the school funding system.

"In 2014 an additional £390 million was allocated to boost 69 of the least fairly funded areas in the country in 2015 -16 - the biggest step toward fairer schools funding in 10 years.

"But we recognise there is still work to which is why we have committed to looking at what more needs to be done to ensure that all local areas are funded justly."

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