Today the Government announced that it would be opening 131 new free schools. Two of these schools will be built in the North East, compared to 27 new schools opening in the South East of England.
One new primary school, Discovery Special Academy, will be opening in Middlesbrough. There are no new schools set to be built in Redcar and Cleveland.
This announcement comes after a National Audit Office report found that existing schools will need to make £3 billion of savings before 2020 and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee warned that education funding was facing the biggest squeeze in decades.
Tom, who has been campaigning for the Government to provide additional funding to North East schools facing cuts, said the announcements showed the Government were getting its priorities wrong.
I’ve been contacted by head teachers and teachers saying that local schools are facing budget cuts and parents are getting in touch to say that they are worried that lower funding levels will impact their children’s education. This Tory Government are saying North East schools need to find £119 million of savings in the next three years.
Meanwhile they have found the money to open a whole raft of new schools – only two of which will be in the North East. My constituents will rightly be wondering why the Department has been focusing on building more new schools, rather than making sure the schools which already exist are able to give their pupils the best education.
More school places are welcome but I think we have to prioritise those schools who we know as struggling and are already teaching students.
The Government pledged more than £300 million to build new grammar schools in their budget but can’t seem to find the money needed to plug the funding gap for North East schools.