Fair Funding debate – at last!

I was telephoned by the Speaker’s Office this afternoon with glad tidings. I have succeeded in getting an Adjournment debate on Fair Funding in Haringey Schools. It is scheduled for next Wednesday. Hurrah!

For anyone who doesn’t know – my campaign to get fair funding for Haringey schoolchildren came about because currently the funding is diabolically unfair. Even Gordon Brown, when I quizzed him a while back at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), agreed it was an ‘anomoly’.

This ‘anomoly’ arises out of the injustice of us (Haringey) having to pay inner London teacher salaries but only receiving outer London per pupil funding. The differential is stark. Our kids each get £1,183 less than children in Camden, Hackney or Islington.

Haringey Council, Haringey NUT and the schools are now all supporting fair funding for Haringey Schools.

I’ve raised the issue not only in Prime Minister’s Questions, but also on the floor of the House, had two meetings with the former Schools Minister Jim Knight (it’s a pain when the Minster changes – which he has). I have a request into the new Minister, Vernon Coaker, for a meeting too.

Now – at last – I have scored an Adjournment Debate. It will last half an hour – and it will be just myself and then the Minister will answer.

To date – the answers and meetings have generally ended with the Government saying that the Funding Review will take care of this – a funding review that won’t introduce whatever its recommended new funding is until 2011. I lobbied for Haringey to have specific representation on the Review Panel – but they refused and they have also refused so far to give a guarantee that we will receive fair funding in the Review.

I have heard other Members in the House raise the issue of differentials they experience in their constituencies – but the last one last week was around a £350 differential – which is bad – but our differential of £1183 is killing.

Our teachers do a brilliant job trying to deliver the absolute best education with the budget they have. However, there were some recent figures that showed that Haringey had the most or nearly the most schools in deficit. The Heads are struggling to try not to make any reductions in the staffing – but clearly with such a huge loss of funding around £32 million per year – it is getting impossible. Just imagine the difference that money would make.

I am emailing all my schools to ask them to let me know their particular situation and how the under-funding is affecting them – so I can illustrate the argument with the facts on the ground.

Hopefully we will get it through to the Government that this is just not fair. Our schools are struggling terribly with their budgets – and if ‘every child matters’ how come our children don’t matter as much as them next door?