Rob Wilson MP has arranged for Lead Councillors from Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) to meet Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, in response to their request for an opportunity to discuss fairer funding for schools in Woodley and Earley.
This follows a similar meeting with the Minster and his officials organised by Rob earlier this year, which all headteachers in Reading East were invited to attend in person, or convey their views via a delegate. This was focused predominantly on the proposed national funding formula, the wider context of school finances, support from Government for the recruitment and retention of teachers and the dispelling of misleading information relating to future school funding.
Rob has already raised repeatedly at Government-level WBC’s position as the lowest funded of all English authorities, as per the school block unit of funding (SBUF). In 2017/18 Wokingham is allocated £4,152 per pupil – less than any of its geographical and statistical neighbours, with Reading receiving £4,475, West Berkshire £4,348 and Windsor & Maidenhead £4,421 per pupil.
He has also facilitated an exchange of correspondence between Lead Councillors at WBC and the Minister for Schools; with issues raised including the introduction of the proposed national funding formula, the recruitment and retention of teachers, and the need for more school places throughout the borough over the next decade. These, and other matters, will all be discussed in greater detail when Councillors meet with Nick Gibb MP.
Joining Rob at the meeting with the Minister will be Leader of the Council, Cllr Keith Baker, and Lead and Deputy Lead Members for Children’s Services respectively, Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor and Cllr Richard Dolinski.
The meeting will take place on Tuesday 18th April.
Rob said: “I’m grateful to Cllrs Baker, Haitham Taylor and Dolinski for engaging with me constructively on important issues of education locally, such as the historic comparative underfunding of schools in Woodley and Earley, and the Government’s efforts to ensure fairer funding for pupils.
“I am in regular discussion with Councillors about the issues faced, and in addition to my representations on behalf of WBC to the Department for Education, they requested a meeting with the Minister. I understand the difficulties regarding fairer funding and believe that WBC has a very strong case; therefore, it was without hesitation that I worked to secure the meeting.
“Having already hosted headteachers from across Reading East at a similar meeting in February, I’m pleased that the Minister has again demonstrated his commitment to children and young people in my constituency and responded positively to my further request.
“Parents, teachers, pupils and elected representatives already know I am personally committed to improving schools in Reading East, with an unwavering focus on excellence and equal opportunity for all. This has manifested itself in two new secondary schools, a Pupil Premium to help the most disadvantaged pupils, continued investment in both new and existing schools, and persistent representations to Government.
“I have always been completely frank with my constituents about education in Reading East and it’s inevitable that there will always be obstacles which everyone with a stake in our schools must work together to overcome – hence why I meet on a regular basis with headteachers. These shared challenges must, however, be met with an equally collective purpose; fortunately, WBC understands this and is dedicated to working hard to ensure the very best for our pupils. “