Heads call out MP over school funding

Henry Smith MP
Henry Smith MP

Henry Smith MP has been called on to publicly condemn as “inadequate” the level of funding lined up for the town’s schools.

Despite the government’s introduction of a new and fairer funding formula for 2018/19, headteachers at 18 schools warned Mr Smith Crawley children would still be “severely disadvantaged”.

Rob Corbett, head of Ifield Community College

Rob Corbett, head of Ifield Community College

Now they have written to him asking him to back their call for improvement.

Crawley has a higher level of disadvantaged children than most areas in West Sussex, and schools receive a pupil premium for those youngsters to help them close the attainment gap between them and their peers.

Heads said caps placed on the formula would mean less money for Crawley and leave children “significantly worse off” than those in other parts of the county, where the level of disadvantage was lower.

When asked about the new funding formula, Mr Smith said Crawley schools would receive a rise of 10.3 per cent by 2019/20, equivalent to £7m.

But Rob Corbett, head of Ifield Community College, said: “He’s using a lot of big numbers that we’ll never see.”

He added: “He knows damned well that we’ll get a really raw deal here.

“They’re increasing the funding for lots of middle class areas and paying for that by not funding our schools well enough”

The heads recently met with Mr Smith to discuss the issue, though the outcome seemed to be less than successful.

Mr Corbett said: “I was pretty cross because he was still trying to sell this as if it’s a good thing.”

He added: “I don’t mind bad news but don’t treat me like I’m stupid because that will make me cross.”

When asked if he would support the headteachers, Mr Smith said: “Every day I commute to Parliament from Crawley at the forefront of my mind is getting the best deal for Crawley across for all public services.”

The heads who wrote to Mr Smith were from: Bewbush Academy, Gossops Green Primary, Hazelwick, Holy Trinity, ICC, Maidenbower Juniors and Infants, Manor Green College, Milton Mount, Northgate, Oriel, Our Lady Queen of Heaven, St Andrew’s, St Margaret’s, St Wilfrid’s, The Brook, Three Bridges and Waterfield.