SPENDING REVIEW: Chancellor pledges to sort out education funding

Staff and pupils at Hopton Primary School celebrate their outstanding Ofsted report. Photograph Simo

Staff and pupils at Hopton Primary School celebrate their outstanding Ofsted report. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

Chancellor George Osborne today pledged to sort out a funding system which leaves this region's schools short-changed as he unveiled his spending plans for 2015.

Mr Osborne said school funding will be allocated in 'a fairer way than ever before', but also set out swingeing cuts across a number of Whitehall departments in yesterday's spending review.

Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire all receive considerably less per pupil than other parts of the country, with Cambridgeshire faring the worst in the country.

Mr Osborne told MPs that under the current system, school funding was not distributed equally, which meant that some schools got more than others, even if they had similar circumstances. 'It's unfair and we're going to put it right,' he said.

'Now the lowest funded local authorities in this country will at last receive an increase in their per pupil funding as we introduce a national funding formula to ensure that no child in any part of our country is discriminated against.'

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Marc Careless, headteacher of Hopton Primary School in north Suffolk, welcomed the news.

He said: 'It would give us more chance to decide for ourselves what our priorities are. Often the budget comes in and it's all tied up before you have a chance to think what would improve the school. It's tied up with the need to fund wages and basic things. We would love to put in more groups for children to ensure the children are making even more progress. You are restricted because you can only employ a certain number of teaching assistants for a certain number of hours.'

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Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who is one of a number of MPs who has lobbied the government for the change, added: 'At the moment there is a bias towards urban schools, which is borne out of the conventional aspects of social deprivation and the indices.'

Mick Castle, Cabinet member for Schools at Norfolk County Council, said the council was yet to receive details on how the formula will work, so he didn't know how it could affect Norfolk.

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