Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Cash Gap Puts Us Bottom of Class

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Cash Gap Puts Us Bottom of Class

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Whitfield

Underfunded schools in the North-East face being left behind by a new Government education plan, it was warned last night.

Figures obtained by The Journal show that primary school children in the region receive less than half the funding per head of pupils in one London borough ( despite the region having some of the lowest attainment rates in the country.

Those figures coincide with the announcement of the Government's five-year education plan today.

Prime Minister Tony Blair says the plan will "have at its heart an ambition to shift from good to excellent the quality of education in this country".

But he was warned that he would fail unless he tackles the funding inequalities that leave North-East children having thousands of pounds less spent on them than their counterparts in London.

Anne Welsh, headteacher at George Stephenson High School, Killingworth, and national president of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "It's very difficult to justify the fact that a student in my school gets more than pounds 1,000 less than a pupil in another part of the country.

"It means I employ fewer teachers and can afford fewer computers, which is fairly significant in education these days.

"The budget situation limits what we can do in every possible way."

Coun Jim Wright, cabinet member for education at Northumberland County Council, said the funding formula that left his county's schools with so much less money was a "mystery".

He added: "Westminster is a winner from this formula and we're a loser.

"Our first commitment is to kids in Northumberland and we want as level a playing field for them as possible.

"We've always tried to get fairer funding and our last settlement was better, but it's only a start in redressing the awful funding inequalities there have been in the past. …

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