CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Telegraph
Senior Tories have gone public with their anger over the government’s education funding reforms as party whips struggle to contain a growing rebellion, The Telegraph reports.
A string of influential conservatives have told The Telegraph that not enough has been done to boost support for rural schools in the spending shake-up.
Tory whips have been working behind the scenes in an attempt to win over critics and end the dispute.
However, MPs are ready to rebel unless changes are made to give “historically under-funded” schools more money through the reforms.
The government’s national funding formula determines how spending is divided up for schools across the country.
Last month, a new formula was announced that would see cities such as London, Manchester and Liverpool get less money and the suburbs and shires get more.
However, Tory MPs are unhappy that the changes have not gone far enough, claiming rural schools that have long been under-funded are still losing out.
A number of influential MPs, including Graham Brady, the chairman of the powerful 1922 committee, have held meetings with Ms Greening to discuss their concerns.
Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, said that schools in her constituency are already among the worst funded in the country, and she had thought they would gain under the proposed formula – but instead, their funding is set to drop even further.
“It is quite a serious thing to say you are going to rebel but I have made it clear that unless they are changed, in their current form I cannot support them,” she said.
Ms Bruce, who led delegation of headteachers from her constituency to Westminster for a meeting with schools minister Nick Gibb to complain about the proposals, added: “I can’t over emphasise how angry my headteachers are. They are really up in arms.
“They tell me these funding proposals will have a seriously damaging effect on curriculum provision, a reduction in teaching staff numbers, an inevitable drop in teaching standards, and even put at risk the financial viability of some sixth forms or entire schools”.
In Ms Bruce’s constituency secondary schools are set to lose £800,000 a year between them, with children in Cheshire East allocated the lowest funding in the country, £4122 per pupil.
She said that the headteacher of Holmes Chapel High is considering removing resources for children such as paper and books, while the headteacher at Sandbach Boys School would be able to make the savings necessary under the formula by closing the entire music, art, business studies or geography departments.
Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, has also spoken to Mr Gibb about his concerns. “I had hoped that the new funding formula would help schools in my rural constituency which have historically been under-funded,” he said, adding that the majority of schools in his constituency would be worse off under the proposals.
Mr Merriman said that 23 schools in his constituency stand to lose money under the proposals, with many of the small rural schools squeezed the most, putting their viability at stake.
He said one headteacher in his constituency has already written to him to explain why she is resigning as she can no longer continue to run the school under such stringent budget constraints.
Across the country, 40% of small rural schools – which is over 1,000 – would lose under the formula, according to the DfE’s figures.
The chair of the Oxfordshire Governors’ Association has written to her members to say that it is “frankly quite shocking” that even though they are one of the lowest funded authorities, “no less than 130 of our schools are facing a funding cut under the proposals and many other seeing little or no gain”.
Separately, ministers are also under pressure from inner-city schools that say they are also losing funding under the new formula.
Graham Brady MP said: “It is clear that the draft published by the DfE does not rectify the long-standing unfairness of education funding.”
A DfE spokesperson said their funding formula will “mean an end to the postcode lottery in school funding”.
“Under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost in 2018-19,” the spokesman said.
“This will help to create a system that funds schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than their postcode.”