Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is to visit Devon to see for himself some of the county’s outdated school buildings.
He made his promise to Devon’s schools’ chief Christine Channon following a meeting in London.
Christine, Devon’s Cabinet Member for Schools and Skills, presented Mr Gove with a DVD of students at four county schools outlining why their buildings need to be modernised.
Three Devon secondaries – Chulmleigh, Ilfracombe and Tiverton – and Marland Special School in North Devon missed out on cash for rebuilding when the Government cancelled the Building Schools for the Future programme. Christine called on Mr Gove to make capital money available to ensure these schemes can proceed.
She said the meeting was constructive and she believed the Government had also been listening to Devon’s Fair Funding for Schools campaign. The current funding formula for schools sees Devon sitting 148th out of 151 local authorities. Every child in a Devon school is now worth £4,005 compared with a national average of £4,398 – a difference of £393.
The Department for Education is currently looking at the funding formula for schools from 2011 and how it distributes the Government’s new Pupil Premium for the most disadvantaged children.
Christine said: “Mr Gove said he was well aware of the funding situation in Devon and the work we have been doing with the F40 group of worst funded local authorities. He promised that he intended to do something about this in the new formula.
“Our primary and secondary schools already achieve better than average results in the Key Stage 2 SATs and at GCSE.
“But if they were funded on a level playing field with schools in other parts of the country and were able to employ more teachers and specialist staff they could achieve even higher standards,” she said.
Christine also brought the Education Secretary up to date with the urgent need for more school places in Exeter.
The rise in births in the city over the last 10 years and more new housing development is putting an increasing strain on school places. There are very few places in Reception and Key Stage 1 for the youngest children and the city’s five secondary schools are forecast to be full within 10 years.
Mrs Channon said: “We need to have a clear plan for how we accommodate the rising school population in Exeter in the short term as well as looking ahead to a long-term vision.
“But that requires funding from the Government to support what is called basic need so that we can provide sufficient places for the growing number of young children.”
(from a press release)