A relatively recent development in Parliament has seen e-petitions debated in the Westminster Hall chamber. This gives members of the public a direct input on some of the issues to be discussed by MPs.
Last week I took part in such a debate on the issue of funding for our schools. In addition to the over 160 signatures this petition has now received from Crawley residents, I am also grateful to local parents and teachers for taking the time to contact me directly on this important subject.
With colleagues across West Sussex I lobbied successfully for a new National Funding Formula and an extra £28 million for schools in our county goes a considerable way to make funding fairer. However, more action is needed to address the concerns raised by Crawley’s headteachers.
The historical underfunding of West Sussex schools under the Blair and Brown years has left a lot to make up for when Crawley pupils received about half of those in London.
This is being addressed, and this coming financial year, support will increase by £33.5 million. The pressures on schools highlighted in the debate by myself and other MPs from our county need to remain the focus of the Department for Education.
As a former Chair of the West Sussex Learning Disability Forum, an area of particular importance is support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Additionally, as a Vice President of the British Dyslexia Association I was pleased to meet with the organisation in recent days to reiterate my support.
I welcome the news that Manor Green School is to be expanded to 200 places from September, ensuring even more provision will be available for Crawley pupils.
As a percentage of GDP, UK spending per pupil on primary and secondary state school education is among the highest in the G7. We expect more from our pupils and teaching staff than ever before. It is essential that schools are able to support their pupils to succeed.
Henry Smith MP