Westminster Hall Debate on Liverpool School Funding
On Tuesday 10th October, Stephen spoke in a Westminster Hall debate, called my Maria Eagle MP, regarding schools funding in Liverpool. Below is the hansard copy of the speech:
'I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) on her excellent and powerful speech and on bringing this important issue to the House. I echo what she said about the risks to schools in Liverpool. On Saturday, we had a demonstration against school cuts in Liverpool, organised by Liverpool City Council cabinet member Nick Small, at which the shadow Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner), spoke. The support there demonstrated the powerful sense in Liverpool that education is a priority for communities and families and that there is real concern about the impact of the proposed funding formula on Liverpool schools.
Let me talk about some of the schools in my constituency. According to schoolcuts.org, Croxteth Community Primary School stands to lose more than £100,000—£381 per pupil. Monksdown Primary School in Norris Green stands to lose £354 per pupil. St Edward’s College, the alma mater of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden), stands to lose more than £200,000. St John Bosco, a fantastic school in Croxteth, which the Minister visited with me a few years ago, stands to lose more than £200,000. It is vital that factors such as deprivation, pupil mobility and prior attainment are given due weight when a national funding formula is devised. If they are not, schools in communities such as the one that my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood and I serve in Liverpool risk losing out, which may set back the work that those schools do to improve standards.
Let me raise a separate issue, which has been raised before in this Chamber: the future of our nursery schools. Nursery schools play a critical role in early years. I am roud to have two nursery schools in constituency: East Prescot Road and Ellergreen. They are both rated outstanding by Ofsted, as are the majority of nursery schools across the country. Last month, a Sutton Trust report stated that the Government were too focused on providing quantity over quality in early years, and that social mobility will not improve because things are being implemented at the expense of quality early years education for the most disadvantaged. Nursery schools are the very best of that quality early years education. I hope that the Minister will update us on the Government’s plans for the funding of nursery schools, because that is an important part of the picture, alongside the issues that my hon. Friend rightly raised about the impact of the national funding formula.
Finally, funding is crucial, but high levels of funding—although necessary—are not sufficient to deliver improvement. That is why schools, the local authority and others in Liverpool have come together to launch the Liverpool promise, which is about how we can collaborate to raise standards. An ambition of the Liverpool promise is to provide world-class education and to improve rapidly against national performance indicators. We know, Liverpool schools know and the local authority knows that we need further improvement. A lot of work needs to be done. If we are to deliver that improvement, we need to share best practice and collaborate, and we need to understand why some schools do better than others in the basics of literacy and numeracy. That shared learning and collaboration is at the heart of why we launched the Liverpool promise.
None of us would ever argue that funding is the only solution to the challenges in our education system, but I absolutely concur with my hon. Friend’s powerful point that we need reliability of funding to ensure that schools across Liverpool and, indeed, other core cities are equipped to meet future challenges. I ask the Minister to give some reassurance that the factors that I have described—deprivation, pupil mobility and prior attainment—will feature in the finally agreed funding formula. If they are given due weight, the funding formula may not have the impact on Liverpool schools that we fear it will if it remains as proposed.'