IN APRIL, we debated fairer funding for schools in Parliament. For many years, Staffordshire has received funding per pupil which is among the lowest in the country.
In 2013-14 Staffordshire schools received £5,129 per pupil compared with £9,036 in the London Borough of Camden. Stoke-on-Trent received £5,833.
A group of the lowest-funded education authorities has been fighting this for years. My predecessor as Stafford MP, David Kidney, did vital work with this group, drawing government's attention to the problem, and I have continued supporting the campaign.
Now this government has responded. I welcome the fact that £350 million extra will be allocated to many low-funded education authorities from 2015. However there is a problem with the formula used and, as a result, Staffordshire has not received an increase.
Some funding differences across the country are reasonable. Costs in London are higher and certain areas have greater needs than others.
But there is no logic behind a difference as wide as that between Camden and Staffordshire. The effects are clear – lower staffing levels and less capital investment in our schools.
With other Staffordshire MPs, I met the Education Secretary to ask him to review the formula and I submitted a response to his consultation. We are, I believe, much closer to a solution to fairer funding than for many years.
Meanwhile a whole generation of children in Syria is at risk of missing out on education due to the terrible civil war which continues to rage.
The generosity of UK citizens is helping the countries – Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq - which are hosting 2.5 million refugees, to give Syrian children an education. There are another 6.5 million refugees within Syria itself. The future of their children is hostage to the brutality and obstinacy of the Syrian regime and its extremist opponents.
Just as in the case of the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, education – especially for girls – is a casualty of violence. We must never give in to those who wish to deprive children of it.