The opening of the new Backworth Park Primary School provided a timely reminder of the importance of a good environment in which children can learn. Strong leadership, excellent staff and supportive governors and parents all matter and they need and deserve the best schools we can provide. What is also needed is adequate funding and the fact is that school funding has fallen in real terms in the last eight years. It’s embarrassing to see Ministers trying to cobble together figures on funding with private school fees and even student loans to justify their claim that funding is up.
I welcome the £24million of extra funding to address the poor performance of many children in the North East in the transition from primary to secondary school. But that is a drop in the ocean which fails to address the overall funding of schools. The Government is also seeking changes to the school funding formula which simply redistributes existing resources without addressing major problems, threatening 13-18 providers.
Education funding cannot be about “making do”. We need proper funding including paying teachers properly. Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn recently wrote in this newspaper that jobs are the future of our borough. She’s absolutely right. And in a world in which the only certainty is change, future jobs depend upon our children having access to the best education possible. In or out of the EU that has to be our aim.