This week children and teachers across the country will be enjoying a well-earned break for half term. I visit local schools in the constituency on a regular basis, and have recently been to those schools which have achieved the most marked improvement in their Key Stage 2 & 3 results, to see how best practice can be spread.
We have such a patchwork of small rural schools in South Shropshire that they will always benefit from increased funding given low pupil numbers. So I was very pleased the Prime Minister announced plans to ensure every secondary school receives at least £5,000 per pupil, and every primary school at least £3,750 next year – with a further increase to at least £4,000 per pupil the following year.
There is also £700 million extra for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) next year, to help ensure every child can access the education support they need.
For South Shropshire, this means every single school will receive an increase in per pupil funding, with some schools in South Shropshire gaining significantly – some of our smaller schools, like Lydbury North, Morville, and Newcastle Primary Schools for example, will see an increase in per pupil funding of over 50%.
Further education and sixth form colleges are also set for a £400m boost in funding nationally, of particular help to Ludlow College. This is the single biggest annual uplift since 2010.
I am also very pleased the Government is enacting Jeremy Hunt’s plan to increase the starting salaries for teachers. Subject to the School Teachers’ Review Body process, the government plans to increase teachers’ starting salaries by up to £6,000 - with the aim of reaching £30,000 by 2022-23. This would make starting salaries for teachers amongst the most competitive in the graduate labour market, encouraging more people into the profession.
These steps are welcome, and taken together will help build on the record of improving educational standards since 2010. As at March 2019, 85 per cent of schools have been judged good or outstanding by Ofsted, compared to just 68 per cent in August 2010. So things are moving in the right direction. But this new fairer funding will help us go even further in ensuring every child has the best possible start in life.