Inner cities taking share of rural schools' cash

PUBLISHED: 13:54 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:52 16 June 2010

AXE Valley Community College headteacher Martin Smith has welcomed MPs demands for Devon schools to get a fairer cash settlement. A parliamentary debate last week heard that Devon received just £3,842 funding - below the national average of £4,217.

AXE Valley Community College headteacher Martin Smith has welcomed MPs' demands for Devon schools to get a fairer cash settlement.

A parliamentary debate last week heard that Devon received just £3,842 funding - below the national average of £4,217.

Lib Dem MP for Teignmouth Richard Younger-Ross said it was a 'disgrace' and called for Devon to have a fair share of the cake.

Tory MP for East Devon Hugo Swire pointed out that the county's school transport bill was now more than £22 million a year - and the high cost was not reflected in the government grant.

Mr Smith said: "I would support the sentiments of the MPs very strongly.

"From our own experience, we recognise that the young people are at a serious disadvantage as a result of the funding situation."

Mr Younger-Ross said some schools were in debt and that funding in the area had been lacking for the past 20 years.

Mr Smith said children's education in the county was being limited by the lack of funding and Ofsted criteria was becoming more difficult to meet.

He said: "I think there are serious issues about the opportunities for children in rural areas. I think they are disadvantaged by funding formulas that favour urban settings.

"Schools in Devon are struggling across the board to be able to afford the quality of education that they think is appropriate for young people.

"There are higher and higher expectations placed on schools by Ofsted. We welcome the challenge. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to meet when we have, in real terms, less and less resources at our disposal."

He added that schools in rural areas faced other difficulties, not experienced in urban areas, such as transport issues - such as costs, the availability of support services and range of courses in proximity.

The Government has admitted the way education money is currently shared does not reflect the cost pressures faced by local authorities.

But ministers argued the funding formula had brought greater stability and that cash needed to be targeted where it was needed most.

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