Supporting our children

As a parent of school age children I know that summer’s end means attention is on the start of the new academic year.

I’ve been working with groups such as Save the Children and the Department for Education to ensure all our children can have the best possible start in life.

Not enough of our young people are reaching expected levels of speech and language at age five. I’ve previously worked with this charity on their initiatives to close the gender attainment gap and their efforts to improve standards of literacy among primary school children. I look forward to continuing to work with the organisation in the new parliament.

On the wider issue of support for schools, I’ve been following up with the Education Secretary and Crawley headteachers ahead of details due next month on an increase for education funding.

In July, it was confirmed that a National Funding Formula will be introduced from 2018-19, and that an additional £2.6 billion will go towards funding schools over the next two years across England.

This represents £1.3 billion in additional investment, is £416 million more than the amount pledged at the last Spending Review for the core school budget in 2018-19, and is £884 million more in 2019-20. Core funding for schools and high needs will rise from almost £41 billion in 2017-18 to £42.4 billion in 2018-19, and to £43.5 billion in 2019-20.

Last month I questioned the Secretary of State for Education in the Commons on support for local schools and was pleased to get assurances that capital funding for necessary rebuilding improvement work at local schools must also carry on unaffected.

How this money is spent is down to headteachers and their staff. While there are 1.8 million more pupils being taught in good or outstanding schools compared to seven years ago, there is still more to be done to improve the life chances of our young people.

This is a cause I continue to pursue alongside other West Sussex MPs with the Department for Education.

Henry Smith MP