n recent weeks a number of local residents have contacted me to express their concern about the proposed National Funding Formula (NFF) for schools and the level of funding made available to pupils in Bromley and Chislehurst. Both in my capacity as a constituency MP, and in my role as the co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for London - a group of over sixty MPs and Peers that seeks to raise the challenges facing our capital in a cross-party, non-partisan fashion – this is an issue I have been working hard on over the past eighteen months.
The current funding system has a number of serious flaws, and although the Government’s aim of replacing it with a new framework that distributes funds more fairly is commendable, I have been very clear that this must be done carefully to ensure any changes are proportionate and do not have an adverse impact on pupils and teachers in our area. This is particularly important in places like London where the education system has some unique characteristics which need to be properly recognised. There are soaring building and maintenance costs, budgets are consumed by higher staff wages, and increased funds are needed to address a mixture of problems ranging from deprivation, child protection, cross-borough mobility and teaching English as an additional language.
That is why last May I led a major debate on this subject, the transcript of which can be found here:
Since then, through subsequent meetings with the Department for Education, questions in the Commons, and in the formal submission the APPG made to the second part of the consultation on the NFF in March, I have continued to press Ministers for assurances that the schools’ budget will be protected in London. The APPG’s response can be read in full at the bottom of this page.
In particular, I have been urging Ministers to address the artificial distinction in funding between inner and outer London boroughs - an arbitrary discrepancy that fails to recognise the demographic changes in places like Bromley – and have sought to secure improvements to the support offered to children with special educational needs. This is especially important locally as Bromley Council is a pathfinder for SEND reforms.
These are all points I raised with the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, when Councillor Peter Fortune and I met with him on 15 March (pictured above).
The turnaround London schools have experienced in recent years is a success story we should rightly be proud of. Please be assured that I will continue to work with the Council and local teachers to put a strong case for Bromley forward.