I suppose that any investment in the education of our young people is good news. It is important though to understand that Education Investment Area status has been given to North Yorkshire because it is one of “55 cold spots of the country where school outcomes are the weakest”.
The Government’s levelling up plan suggests that the solution will be to use the funding awarded to give even more support to academy trusts (already 35.4 per cent of schools are academy trusts in Thirsk and Malton); increase the number of free schools (sixth forms); and offer retention payments to keep good teachers. I’m not convinced that this will do the trick.
This plan does nothing to address the real issues of persistent underfunding since 2010. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has established that “the cuts to education spending over the last decade are effectively without precedent in post-war UK”.
In March 2021, 22 North Yorkshire schools had accumulated deficits totalling £7.5m. The average primary school deficit is £57,000 and the average secondary school deficit is £596,000. Three of the 22 schools have converted to academy status or closed since March 2021.
Going forward, 67 per cent of NYCC-maintained schools are projecting an in-year deficit in 2021-22, and by 2023-24 (forecast) this will mean 79 schools will be in deficit.
Today, after 11 years of Mr Hollinrake’s government, children across North Yorkshire and in Thirsk and Malton are not able to access the quality of education they deserve. Will being an Education Investment Area make up for a decade of underfunding by this government?
I suggest that we need real change rather than vague promises before even more of our children and young people end up being unfairly disadvantaged through no fault of their own.
From: Sam Willmott, Bingley.
A VERY fair editorial (The Yorkshire Post, March 4) on school funding. Until we know the state of the finances at every school, then progress towards the Government’s modest levelling up target cannot be monitored effectively.
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