Councillors back calls for education funding to ensure ‘no child is left behind’

Councillors have backed calls for more education funding to ensure ‘no child is left behind’ in County Durham.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 4:46 pm
Councillors back calls for education funding to ensure ‘no child is left behind’

Durham County Council’s opposition Labour group presented a motion calling for extra resources from the government.

The move followed the recent resignation of Sir Kevan Collins who was appointed by the Prime Minister as the government’s education recovery commissioner.

Sir Kevan had reportedly said a £15 billion support package was needed for pupils to make up for time lost as a result of the pandemic, however the Department of Education announced £1.4 billion would be made available.

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A debate on future education funding and its implications for County Durham was debated at a meeting of full council on Wednesday, June 23.

Labour councillor Olwyn Gunn launched a motion calling for extra resources for children and young people and to give “disadvantaged” areas such as County Durham and the North-East the “highest priority.”

The motion also asked for a commitment from government that “no child is left behind.”

Cllr Gunn told the meeting: “We councillors may disagree on many things and we have disagreed on many things in the recent past.

“But on this issue I’m confident that we can all agree on the need to give the very best life chances to all of our children in County Durham.

“So I suggest to members that this motion is non-party political, there are no Labour children, there are no independent children, no Lib Dem children and no Tory children, they’re all our children.”

Cllr Gunn added that government should invest more into education if it “values the importance of education and future life chances for our children and also recognises education as a driver of a more prosperous and a more healthy society.”

During debate, an amendment was proposed removing several paragraphs from Labour’s original motion, including a statement comparing national funding ‘per pupil’ data to the Netherlands and the USA.

It also removed a paragraph referencing a change in the census used to calculate Pupil Premium funding for the most disadvantaged pupils – stating £150 million was being “taken away from young people and schools.”

Conservative councillor Ted Henderson, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said the amendments aimed to keep the motion “succinct and to the point.”

Conservative councillor Richard Bell, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for finance, added the amendment supported the original aims of the motion to call for additional resources.

Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Wilkes, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, also welcomed the amendment.

He said: “The impact on our children of failing to make sure that the funding is there now will have an enormous negative ramification not only for our children but on our whole society.

“So I fully support the motion as amended, we need the funding in now for our schools now otherwise we’re going to see some serious issues down the line and the government will be to blame.”

After the wording of the amended motion was agreed by a vote, it was officially passed with 107 votes in favour and five votes against, to write to the Prim Minister Boris Johnson calling for more support.

The amended motion reads:

On June 2 the government published its plans for education recovery after the pandemic.

Sir Kevan Collins, appointed by the Prime Minister as the Government’s Education Recovery Commissioner had judged that some £15bn was needed to repair the damage done to the nation’s pupils because of Covid.

The government’s offer of £1.4bn falls far short and is inadequate. In his resignation letter Sir Kevan Collins stated, ‘I do not believe it is credible that a successful recovery can be achieved with a programme of support of this size’.

Durham County Council resolves:

To write to the Prime Minister and call on the government to:

Demonstrate its ambition for our children and young people and give our education system the resources they need to ensure that no child is left behind.

Recognise that areas of the country with children who are most disadvantaged, like County Durham and the whole of the North-East Region, should be given the highest priority and immediate increased financial investment.

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