Education expert warns Bedford schools set to lose out over funding threat

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Thousands of schoolchildren all over Bedford are set to suffer due to a funding U turn, the council’s education expert has claimed.

Every state school in Bedford Borough was due to share a £2 million windfall under the government’s proposed new national funding formula.

Based on pupil need rather than geographical area, it means historically underfunded Bedford – with its high number of low-income families – would be one of the top areas in the UK to benefit.

And the extra cash would help counteract the eight per cent budget ‘cut’ each school is currently facing due to increased costs and inflation.

But this week the new funding formula was suddenly in jeopardy, with reports that some Tory MPs are planning to vote against it.

The bombshell will have disastrous results for Bedford, said Cabinet member for education, Henry Vann.

Mr Vann, who is a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, has accused the Tories of “short-changing” local schoolchildren.

“Our local schools have been underfunded for years and we will lose more than £2m if the Tories drop the plans for a fairer funding formula.

“Worse still, this underfunding is on top of the real term cuts school are facing in per pupil funding over the next few years because of cuts.”

The loss would affect the borough’s 27,950 youngsters in state schools, including foundations and academies. The six private schools would not be affected, said Mr Vann.

“The children will be the ones that suffer – there is no doubt,” he said.

Conservative candidate Richard Fuller, standing for re-election to the Bedford & Kempston seat, said the reports of a national revolt over school funding were “mere speculation at this stage.”

He has confirmed he will vote FOR the new formula because it would benefit Bedford school greatly.

“The important issue is that our schools have good head teachers, good staff and a budget to enable them to educate local children in the best possible way,” he said.