Students call for fairer education funding

Crawley students have added their voices to the call for a fairer funding deal for the county’s schools.

Six youngsters from St Wilfrid’s School, in Southgate, have spoken about the inequalities in the government’s system which has seen West Sussex floundering near the bottom of the cash pile.

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The lack of money has left schools unable to hire specialist teachers or even purchase basic equipment such as books and pens.

Nathan Finnegan, Sylvia Kitenge , Oliver Colbran, Patrick Kerr, Annie Bell and Daniella Coxall said they should not miss out on the opportunities and advantages given to students elsewhere simply because of where they lived.

And they wondered how they would be perceived to measure up against people from more generously funded schools when it came to future employment.

Nathan said: “We shouldn’t feel, just because we’re from a certain area, that we’re worth any less than anyone else.

“It doesn’t contribute to how we act towards education or how we feel towards education.

“We all put the same amount of effort in as anyone else so surely we should be treated the same way.”

Sylvia added: “In the outside world we’re going to get compared in the exact same way so why shouldn’t we get the same opportunities?

“[Others] can then come and say ‘oh I had this’ and we’ll have to say ‘oh my school didn’t offer that because my school didn’t have the money to offer that’.

“But then we’re still judged in the same way, we’re still going for the same jobs, we’re going for the same companies but we haven’t had the same upbringing.”

West Sussex schools receive £4,198 per pupil in government funding, compared to the national average of £4,612 – a difference which would have meant an extra £41million per year for the county.

In London, where teachers are paid more, the average figure per pupil is well in excess of £6,000 – a difference of £212million per year.

In November, after much pressure from authorities up and down the country, the government acknowledged the current funding system was in need of an overhaul and pledged to introduce a new system from 2017.

The pledge, however, would still leave West Sussex schools scraping around for enough money just to tread water.

As such, every primary, secondary and special education headteacher in the county has signed up to the Worth Less? campaign, calling not only for fairer funding but for some interim funding to help them make ends meet before the new system is in place.

Oliver added: “I think it goes against the point of having a state school system just because it was set up to help deal with inequality in our society; and if the state system itself is unfair then it contradicts the principle of its existence – that everybody should have the same chance to do well in life.”

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