Budget – "Hammond's £320m for new Grammars will damage Cornwall Schools"

“If the government can find extra money to spend on education they should be using it to reverse the devastating cuts to school budgets and give hard working teachers a pay rise” – Adam Paynter

The chancellor Phillip Hammond is to announce extra money for new free schools in his first budget today. This will lead to the creation of new Grammar Schools in England.

What’s the fuss? Grammar Schools choose pupils on the basis of how clever they are  – but the kids not performing so well often end up in an inferior school down the road. This gives an obvious advantage to kids from richer families, who could for example afford extra, private tuition to help get into their child into the Grammar School, whilst kids from a poor background can’t afford that. This cements the divide between rich and poor, as kids with better education end up in better paid jobs, and the cycle starts again. It’s not fair that kids from a poor background don’t get given the same level of education, and fewer opportunities in life as the kids from well off families.
Well, life is unfair, you say, in this dog eat dog world but it’s the place of our government to try to redress the balance, to create a level playing field, to give every kid the same opportunity – not to make the disadvantage bigger.
But today, in the Budget, Philip Hammond will confirm a one-off payment of £320m for 140 new free schools, on top of the 500 already pledged to be created by 2020.
It comes at a time when the national schools budget has been cut by as much as £3bn.
“Our schools in Cornwall can only dream of having almost double the amount of funding like other local authorities have” said the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children, Cllr Andrew Wallis, recently. “The best-funded authorities get around £9.5k per pupil even with a full 3% reduction they will still receive much more than the poorest authorities whose starting point is about £4.5k “
“There is no getting away from it, but historically, Cornwall has been one of the worse funded areas for education. Not just this current Government, but previous Governments too” he added.

Research has shows that from 2015 – 2020 the Conservative Government is planning to cut more than £26m from Cornwall’s education budgets, which is a cut of more than £400 per pupil across Cornwall and is the equivalent of over 700 teachers in Cornwall.

Cornwall Council opposes proposals to bring back Grammar Schools. In a motion passed by the Lib Dems in November, it said “They are divisive, likely to damage the education prospects of less well off children and lead to a downgrading of remaining schools.”

“It’s a waste of money  – at the same as the government is cutting funding to Cornwall’s existing schools” say the Cornish Lib Dems today, reacting to the announcement today of an extra £320m to fund ‘free’ schools.
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Adam Paynter

Cllr Adam Paynter, Deputy Leader of Cornwall Council and Leader of the Lib Dem Group on the Council went further, “If the Conservative government can find extra money to spend on education they should be using it to reverse the devastating cuts to school budgets and give hard working teachers a pay rise – not pumping more and more money into a scheme which is simply not working and failing to deliver for the young people who need most support.”

“Existing local schools and colleges in Cornwall have shown that they can give an excellent education for the young people of Cornwall, they need to be supported, and not undermined by moves like this from the Conservative government.” Cllr Paynter said.

The Chancellor will deliver his budget to Parliament at 12.30pm today. Some extra cash for Science industries is also expected to be announced which Cornwall’s SpaceHub programme could benefit from.
Data on education budget cuts for individual schools and local authorities is available from www.schoolcuts.org.uk