More cash for Croydon’s schools, but not everybody is happy

By - Monday 4th September, 2017

The case for all Croydon politicians to welcome new education funding

Photo public domain.

As a mother, there are few things I care more about than the quality of our schools in Croydon. Not only do I want the best for my own children, I believe that every child in Croydon is entitled to a great education.

I am not alone in this belief. Poll after poll shows that education is one of the top issues for people across the country. It should also be among the highest priorities for our politicians and elected representatives and as such we deserve the topic of education to be dealt with fairly and seriously rather than treated as a political football, kicked around the pitch in order to try to score a few political points.

Like all parents, I welcomed Justine Greening’s announcement in July that the government will invest an extra £1.3bn in schools. As someone who runs their own business and organises the family finances, I know that money doesn’t grow on trees and I appreciate the fact that this increase will be funded by savings elsewhere in the Department for Education (DfE). As a Croydon resident, the detail of the announcement that I am most excited about is the government’s commitment to pressing ahead with the new national funding formula for schools. This will mean a significant boost in cash to the vast majority of schools across our borough.

When the new funding formula is introduced, almost every secondary school in Croydon will benefit

For many years, Croydon’s schools have been missing out. Under the current system, similar schools do not receive like for like funding. Instead the amount of money they receive depends on their geographic location with a formula based on a range of historic, and largely outdated, factors. For example, the average school in nearby Lambeth receives more funding per pupil than a similar school in Croydon; this just isn’t right. When the new funding formula is introduced, almost every secondary school in Croydon, and the vast majority of primaries, will benefit with some receiving a 10% increase in funding. This is fantastic news! So why has the response to this funding been so muted? The explanation for this lies in this year’s general election campaign.

Leaflet distributed by Sarah Jones at Croydon Central schools during the 2017 general election campaign.
Photo author’s own.

During the election campaign, friends of mine made me aware of a leaflet being distributed at school gates on behalf of Sarah Jones, now the Labour MP for Croydon Central. The leaflet was entitled ‘STOP Tory Cuts to our schools’, listed a number of Croydon’s schools, and graphically stated how much their budgets would be cut by using figures that appeared to be derived from an NUT-backed website. Sarah Jones continued to repeat these assertions at the Croydon Central hustings and parents were understandably alarmed. Gavin Barwell, the then-incumbent Conservative MP, countered that that these figures were wide of the mark, demonstrating this by using the National Funding Formula consultation figures produced by the DfE. These figures indicated an increase in funding for Croydon’s Central’s secondary schools along with 18 of the 25 primary schools.

Since the announcement of the extra £1.3bn in schools funding, there has been very little celebration in Croydon. I would have expected Sarah Jones to welcome the new funding for schools and especially for the schools in Croydon Central. Education was seen as a topic worthy of one of the few pieces of literature that Sarah distributed during the campaign. I’m puzzled by her reticence to cheer for the new opportunities that Justine Greening announcement presents for Croydon’s children. I’d like to think that Sarah Jones wasn’t just using the topic of education when it could help her case in an election campaign. The families of Croydon deserve better than that.

Helen Redfern

Helen Redfern

Moved to Croydon in 2004. Politics graduate, ex-banker, now working with expectant and new parents. Inspired by Croydon's potential. Member of the Conservative Party.

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  • Anne Giles

    Excellent article!

  • Sean Creighton

    As a primary Governor I hope you are right that all schools will benefit. This article seems to me to be premature. We need to know how much extra funding each school in Croydon will receive, how many schools are running deficit budgets based on a cuts programme over the next 2/3 years, and whether the extra funding will wipe out those deficits? Once we have these figures we can then assess whether the extra funding is really going to help or simply slow down the erosion of funding to schools.