Leader misses chance to bend Prime Minister’s ear, but insists “someone is listening” over education funding.
14:30 17 January 2014
The leader of Cambridgeshire County Council Martin Curtis failed in his bid to challenge Prime Minister David Cameron over the funding of Cambridgeshire’s schools when he visited Downing Street last Wednesday.
But Cllr Curtis did manage to spend time with a member of the Prime Minister’s “team” and insisted that “someone is listening”.
He tweeted: “Never got to chat to PM tonight. V busy. But one of his team singled me out to discuss schools capital. V understanding agreed to talk more.”
He added: “What was clear tonight was our case has been heard. Now it’s about finding a solution.”
Cambridgeshire is the lowest funded authority in the country for education - 151st out of 151 - despite having the fastest growing population.
Cllr Curtis said: “The deal Cambridgeshire has had over education funding is blatantly unfair. Now we have learned there is more uncertainty over the money we are to be given by Government over the much needed capital spend for education.
“This money is vital to make sure we have the new schools and classrooms to deal with the major increase in students that comes with growth.
“I know all my cabinet colleagues will be taking every opportunity to bend the ears of Government, ministers and local MPs to continue to fight for fairer funding – and I hope and believe we will get the same support from opposition groups.”
Ofsted’s first ever report reviewing education standards in the East of England region revealed last month that Cambridgeshire is in the bottom 10 per cent of all authorities in England for the proportion of children attending primary schools that are good or better.
Cambridgeshire is ranked tied 135th out of 151 among local authorities with 67 per cent of pupils attending good or outstanding primary schools.
Cambridgeshire’s secondary schools performed better - 78 per cent of pupils attended good or outstanding secondary schools, placing it tied 63th.
Cllr David Harty, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Learning, defended the performance of Cambridgeshire’s schools.
He said: “Schools and the local authority are not complacent. Headteachers and officers from the county council have signed up to ambitious strategies to close attainment gaps and raise standards.
“Cambridgeshire is the lowest-funded authority in the country for education - this is inevitably going to have an impact on what we can do.
“It is also the fastest growing county in the country, but the Government is not funding this growth, putting additional pressure on schools.
“We have innovative projects in schools, such as working together to raise standards with clusters and teaching schools, linking lower-performing schools with ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools.”