Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Funding Row as Schools Rebuilding Plan Unveiled

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Funding Row as Schools Rebuilding Plan Unveiled

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Lognonne Education Reporter

PLANS to rebuild 16 North East schools are to be revealed today - as a row broke out over schools funding in the region.

Tory MP Guy Opperman has criticised Labour for failing to protect school budgets in its plans for the election. Mr Opperman, MP for Hexham, said the Coalition government had pledged to protect the schools budget but had "no idea" of Labour's policy going forward.

Labour MP for North West Durham, Pat Glass, defended her party's position by simply saying Labour would not be cutting public spending back to 1930s levels.

Mr Opperman praised prime minister David Cameron's promise that a future Tory government would not cut the amount of funding allocated per pupils before 2020.

"We're freezing in cash terms the education budget," said the Hexham MP. "The ring-fence for school spending matches our promise to protect NHS funding. No other party, including the Labour party, has given anything like that pledge."

But Ms Glass said Tory plans will see a real-terms cut to spending on schools after the party could not promise to inflation-proof education funding. She said: "This is a 'flat cash per pupil' measure and the schools budget would not be protected from inflation.

"Schools face a budget cut of around 10% in real terms during the next parliament if the Conservatives win the election. Certain schools in my constituency have seen their funding reduced since 2010. Local authorities have seen their education budgets cut back and schools have had to cover these costs."

The debate comes as details of a PS140m investment to rebuild 16 more schools in the North East are revealed by the Coalition today.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and education secretary Nicky Morgan confirmed that the sum of money will be invested as part of the second phase of the government's Priority School Building Programme.

More than 30 schools are already benefiting under the first phase of the programme, bringing the total number of schools to receive a revamp to 47 across the region. Schools, including Vane Road Primary School in County Durham and Dinnington First School in Newcastle, are among the additional schools announced today that will bene-fit from the scheme. …

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