As a teacher, I could not be more committed to seeing that all the children in the town reach their full potential. I believe in an education system that is fully funded.
There are two issues confronting schools in Eastbourne.
Firstly, there has been a degree of confusion with the proposed National Funding Formula, which is seeking to reform the previous formula first introduced in 2006. The 2006 formula has cemented a lower level of funding for Eastbourne and this is clearly unfair. Under the proposed figures, all schools bar one gain additional money with the latter seeing no increase. I am the only MP in the country that can say that no school will lose money because of the formula.
What is causing significant worry for me and many others is the rise of the costs of education, when funding is not matching these increases – leading to real terms cuts in school budgets by 2020. I share the determination of schools and parents in seeking additional funding in Eastbourne to ensure these cost pressures are adequately met.
All Sussex MPs were due to meet with the Secretary of State on this very issue and to lobby for improvements on the day of the Westminster terror attack last month. It was rescheduled for what is now the dissolution period.
I have also worked with our local headteachers and schools to make the case for improvements in schools’ budgets. A delegation from our schools has met with the Schools Minister to press our case and did secure at the meeting a commitment from him to visit our schools, and to learn directly from the people who know the most – the teachers – the challenges our schools face.
Many seem to be wrongly thinking I support this current state of affairs, but this is not the case. You can be reassured I support our schools in getting more money for pupils and I am happy to say I will continue to press ministers for better funding whether I remain an MP or not.
Nothing is closer to my heart than the future of our schools.