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Cambridgeshire school heads and MP tackle minister over funding crisis

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Cambridgeshire’s campaign for better funding for its schools continued as headteachers met the education minister to discuss the problems and challenges they are facing due to a shortage of money.

South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer (14330239)
South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer (14330239)

The minister of state for education, Nick Gibb MP, was told about the need for more investment in the high needs block – funding for those who have special educational needs or an education, health and care plan – and also for sixth-form education.

The meeting was arranged by South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer who, along with others, is campaigning for fairer funding in further education. The county is also campaigning for better funding for primary and senior schools as they struggle to cover rising costs and, in some cases, have to cut their hours and ask parents for donations.

Mr Gibb told the headteachers, which included Fulbourn Primary School, Great Wilbraham Primary, Robert Arkenstall School, Impington Village College, Witchford Village College, Long Road Sixth Form College and Hills Road Sixth Form College, that the government was currently consulting on high needs funding and the Department for Education (DfE) would make a bid to the Treasury for the next spending review.

While additional funding of £3.1m will be given to schools in the South East Cambridgeshire constituency, Ms Frazer said she stressed to the minister that student growth remains high, and further money is needed.

“I regularly visit schools and meet with headteachers to listen to their concerns, and pass these directly to the secretary of state, ministers and the Department for Education,” she said.

“I welcome the minister’s commitment to looking into these issues, as well as the other measures the government is taking, including additional funding for improvements to school facilities, and the lifting of the one per cent pay cap to improve teacher recruitment and retention.”

One of the schools at the meeting, Fulbourn, will have to close early once a week because of a lack of funding. Classes will finish two hours earlier, at 1.30pm, on Wednesdays from September. The governing body said funding had increased, but it was not in line with costs.

While the DfE described the move as “unacceptable” and said it had given Cambridgeshire an extra £20.1m, the county remains one of the worst funded education authorities in England.

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