I went with a Haringey deputation to meet with Lord Hill – the Schools Minister last week. In the deputation were: Cllr Lorna Reith (Haringey Executive Member for Children’s Services), David Lammy, Tottenham MP, Peter Lewis, Director of Children’s Services at Haringey and Tony Brockman from Haringey NUT.
This was a timely plea to the Government to push our case for the outcome of the two options in the recently completed consultation on funding formulas for our schools to be the ‘Hybrid’ option. To all those locally who know how long and how hard I and the Liberal Democrats have campaigned against Labour’s long standing unfair funding to Haringey – you know how important this is.
Apart from our usual LibDem petitions and email list – we were at the school gates getting people to respond to the consultation by the then Labour Government on funding. (A consultation they had been forced into by our campaign and others around the country where the unfairness in funding was now putting schools into deficit – and denying the children in those areas the teachers they needed). And clearly – the people in Haringey responded splendidly – with something like 1500 people letting the the new government know exactly how unfair the old Labour funding formula was and how much we need that money in Haringey with all the challenges we have. It had clearly been noted – the depth and volume of feeling from parents and teachers and all in Haringey!
In Haringey our children get £1300 less per head than neighbouring boroughs like Camden, Islington and Hackney. When I met the previous government Minister on this very outrageous inequality – even he admitted that Haringey with its £1300 diferential was the worst ‘cliffedge’ (difference between close neighbours) in the county.
Obviously – the new coalition government’s ‘pupil premium’ in the coalition agreement – where £2.5 billion will come on stream starting in the second year of government – and where the money follows the pupil with special needs or on free school meals (and which will benefit every single school in Haringey) will be a blessing. However, that will bring us in a lot of money – but equally it will bring money into those boroughs like Camden and Hackney too.
So first off I wanted to make sure that when that money comes on stream from the ‘pupil premium’ – Haringey is first in line for it! However, the meat of this meeting was about the results of the consultation on the funding formula – the funding formula that has for so long underfunded Haringey.
The ‘hybrid’ option will close some of the gap in our funding. We are £35million adrift every single year. The ‘hybrid’ option will move us half way towards closing the gap (estimate only).
We each made the case – very well I thought. And it was well-received. Lord Hill clearly got the message and the timing of this deputation was perfect as the decision is about to be made. He did seem receptive. So the case was well made – and now we have to keep everything crossed that we get our funding!