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Westminster Column - The voice of Sutton Coldfield has been heard!

In 2011, Sutton Coldfield was named as one of the best places to raise children in the whole of the UK, partly because we have some of the best schools in the West Midlands. Students in our secondary schools regularly excel in exams, achieving exceptionally high percentages of A* - C grades.

Clearly, investment is needed to continue improving standards and to accommodate the excellent work our schools are doing for the next generation of Suttonians, I have been very concerned at the uncertainty over future school funding and in particular the negative effect on Sutton’s schools which could have been brought about by previous plans for the formula. That is why I welcome the Government’s decision last week on the national funding formula for schools – due to be implemented from April 2018.

I have always believed that we should ensure that we distribute funding fairly and transparently - thereby ending the unfair postcode lottery on which the funding system operates. But equally I believe that it would not be right to take away from our schools in order to fund others.

Since changes to the formula were first mooted, I have been pressing the Government to take into account the very unattractive effect of their previous plans on the Royal Town, and I am pleased that the Government’s new position recognises Sutton Coldfield’s uniquely difficult situation.

The additional investment from the Government will increase the amount of school funding going to the Royal Town by an average of 1.2%. It will also provide a minimum cash increase for each school of 1% by 2019-2020.

Furthermore, under the national funding formula, all of our secondary schools will now attract at least £4,800 per pupil; and all primary schools will attract at least £3,500. Naturally, we would have welcomed even greater additional funding, but it is undeniable that this is a great improvement over the previous proposals.

I have invited the Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, to pay a visit to the Royal Town in October where he will be meeting with Sutton’s Headteachers – I am confident that this will be helpful to us and him.

With these arrangements in place, I hope my constituents will feel that the voice of Sutton Coldfield has been heard.

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