Universal free meals for infants should be scrapped to help the “undue” funding pressures facing schools, a Tory backbencher has suggested. St Albans MP Anne Main added it was “crazy” to ring-fence “huge sums of money for foreign aid” when the education budget lacked funding. The Belfast Telegraph reports.
Speaking during her Westminster Hall debate on school funding, she said: “Just like I don’t want to see any budgets that should be used for pupils who are at the poorest end of the margins taken away, I don’t want to see wealthier parents being cross-subsidised when they don’t need it.”
Mrs Main added: “I’m a great supporter of good aid projects that have been done across the world but it seems crazy to me that we ring-fence huge sums of money for foreign aid when vital public services such as our education budget lack funding.
Mrs Main said it did not seem right that more and more schools were “having to go cap in hand” to parents for even the most basic provisions such as text books.
She warned schools were “not feeling the effects” of “record” levels of funding and “disappointed” head teachers were calling for more resources to help meet the “ever-rising costs and additional financial burdens” being placed upon them, such as bigger National Insurance contributions.
Fellow Conservative and former education minister Tim Loughton spoke of a “sense of deja vu” as he called for “greater clarity” over real-terms funding. He warned staffing costs in some of his schools had reached 90% of their budget, becoming “unsustainable”.
Lib Dem Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon) cautioned of a paring down in the breadth of the curriculum due to a lack of funding.
Labour’s Rachael Maskell (York Central) said outcomes were being impacted by the “crisis” in funding.
Shadow schools minister Mike Kane urged ministers to “remove their heads from the sand”.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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