MP holds key debate on local schools

Steve Brine held a special debate in the House of Commons this evening covering a wide range of issues affecting teachers and schools across Winchester & Chandler’s Ford.

He covered funding, capital projects, teachers’ pensions, the work of PTA’s and high needs funding in speech presided over by Speaker John Bercow.

The MP told the House that supporting schools was a key focus for his work as and how he, with two young children himself, is able to view the system as both a parent and the local Member of Parliament.

In a well-researched speech, contributed to by a number of headteachers from across the constituency, Steve told the House how every school bar one is either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ at the current time.

Key themes that came up were the Teachers’ Pension Scheme in the light of news that employer contributions to the TPS are due to increase to 23.6% this year and the MP challenged the Minister to provide long-term funding certainty to schools given the increase is only confirmed to be met by Government for 2019/20.

He also covered funding issues and in particular the challenge of increased per-pupil funding alongside a reduction in the lump sum across Hampshire to bring it in line with the national funding formula - a decision taken by the Hampshire Schools Forum a few years back.  Steve told the House; “The truth is, it has created winners and losers depending on the size of the school, and this is a particular challenge for smaller rural schools.”

The speech had a major focus on high needs funding and Steve said many local schools were seeing a marked increase in the needs of children, especially with regards to social, emotional and mental health. He recognised that Hampshire has received an additional £6m over two years in High Needs block funding but said it clearly cannot keep up with demand. “In 2014 there were 5,500 pupils with a statement across Hampshire; in 2019 there are 8,300 with EHCP’s This has led to a £10 million in year deficit at the LEA”, he told MPs.

“If you add to this how stretched CAMHs and the Supporting Families Programme are in our area we have the perfect storm in my opinion which says clearly we need so much more support in our schools to stand with vulnerable children and their families - who are often of course highly vulnerable themselves.”

He closed the debate with a plea the Schools Minister Nick Gibb, and the incoming new Prime Minister, to produce a long-term funded plan for schools as has recently happened for the NHS where Steve was until recently a Minister.

Speaking after the debate, he said: “Supporting schools in Winchester – and Chandler’s Ford – are a key focus for me so it was good to present what I hope was a comprehensive and balanced view of the current position. It was time to put all that on the record and make my call for that long-term funding settlement and plan for schools in England.”

Pictured; Steve on his feet in the House of Commons during the debate.

More information …

Watch the entire speech via Parliament TV

Read Steve’s speech in full via Hansard