Devon councillor elected national chair of school funding campaign

Photo of Councillor James McInnes

Posted on: 15 October 2018

Devon has a new national champion in the continuing fight for fair funding for schools.

Devon County Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for schools, James McInnes, has been elected chairman of the influential lobbying group f40.

It’s made up of the worst funded education authorities in the country and regularly meets with Government Ministers, MPs and civil servants in the Department of Education to press for fairer school funding.

On Monday (15), Mr McInnes will officially take over from the current long-serving chairman, Ivan Ould, from Leicestershire and help lead a briefing for MPs at Westminster.

Mr McInnes has regularly campaigned with heads, parents and governors from Devon schools for better funding.

The county has moved up from sixth from bottom of 152 local authorities when every pupil was worth £480 less than the national average.

But the latest figures show every child in a Devon school still gets £304 less in funding than the national average. That means schools are losing out on £27 million every year.

The county’s Early Years’ funding also falls short with children getting £279 less than the national average – a funding gap of £2.8 million.

And the funding for the county’s most vulnerable children – the high needs block – has failed to keep pace with the rise in demand.

Since 2015 there has been a 14.5 per cent increase in the number of children with education, health and care plans.

But funding from national government has only gone up by two per cent from £62.6 million to £64.1 million.

Mr McInnes said today:

“I am delighted to have been elected as chairman of f40 but a little apprehensive about trying to step into Ivan’s shoes.

“During a time of austerity for all public services, he and f40 have done an excellent job of keeping school funding high up the agenda.

“This Government has put more money into education and tried to make the funding system fairer to rural areas.

“But I have to say the system still penalises Devon schools and there isn’t enough money nationally to take account of the rise in the number of children being educated and all the extra pressures and responsibilities that have been placed on heads.

“The fact that schools in Devon have had to cut around 600 teaching and support staff posts in the past year to keep their budgets in the black is testament to that.

“Every child deserves a decent education because education in itself is something to which we should all aspire.

“But for purely selfish reasons we also want to be producing well-educated children.

“In a world in which competition is increasingly global, we will be relying on them to keep our economy competitive and generating the profits on which we all rely to pay for our vital public services.

“The Prime Minister has signalled that we are moving towards the end of austerity.

“There will be a clamour for more funding from no end of services. But I intend to make sure that education and our schools make their case powerfully and cogently to Ministers and civil servants nationally and at the same time continue fighting for a fair deal for Devon.”

Posted in: Education