The vast majority of schools in the constituency are rated good or outstanding which is something our teachers and school staff can be proud of. However, I've recognised for a long time (as I have visited our schools) that these standards are difficult to maintain if the funding fails to keep up with the costs our schools face. This is a point (along with the need for fair funding across the nation's schools) that Southwest MPs, including myself, have repeatedly raised with the Government. On Monday the Education Secretary Justine Greening, reaffirmed the commitment to roll out a National Funding Formula. I have always welcomed this intention.
However, due to robust opposition from MPs where funding per pupil is more generous, the proposed method of implementing the formula still left West Cornwall schools short. I have argued that more money must be made available if the National Funding Formula is to work. The devil is in the detail but the fresh announcement on Monday means that the schools and high needs budget will increase from £41 billion this year to £42.4 billion next year. The commitment is to increase the basic amount that every pupil will attract and protect funding for pupils with additional needs.
The Education Secretary also stated that her department 'will take action this year to provide targeted support to schools where financial health is at risk'. I will continue to listen and work with headteachers in West Cornwall so that the long-awaited fair-funding formula proves to be fair for our schools. Schools need a firm foundation to enable them to continue their high standards, promote social mobility and give every child the best possible education and opportunity.
Promoting Cornish goods to new markets is something I've taken great pleasure in and I was delighted to welcome His Royal Highness and the Duchess of Cornwall to the 'trade' event in Porthleven this week. Once again we were able to bring examples of the best of local producers together with London buyers (this time in Porthleven rather than the Palace of Westminster) to continue to focus attention on the opportunities that exist to expand our 'export' market. The Royal visit helped to celebrate and promote the incredible Cornish brand.
Derek Thomas MP
For West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (St Ives)