Schools in West Sussex would receive almost £100 extra per pupil a year if the government funded the county fairly, a joint letter signed by the leaders of Adur and Worthing Councils.
The letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, points out that, despite a recent funding increase West Sussex still has the eighth lowest funding per primary school pupil in the country and the sixth lowest for secondary school pupils.
The letter has been sent by all leaders of district and borough councils in the county, including leader of Adur District Council, Cllr Neil Parkin and Worthing Borough Council, Cllr Dan Humphreys, together with the Leader of the County Council.
They say they understand that more money must be spent in more deprived areas of the country but points out that West Sussex is still unfairly dealt with compared to Hampshire and East Sussex. If similar deals were in place here primary schools would have an extra £9.5m for primary schools and £10.5m.
‘This lack of funding is beginning to have significant impact on the ground, with a number of West Sussex schools having to make difficult decisions about staff reductions,’ the letter says, ‘We call on the Government to increase the total amount available for education funding in England to ensure that all schools have sufficient resources.’
The letter goes on to urge the government to allow the county to open new schools saying the restriction In West Sussex is failing to help it meet rising demand and is hampering the area meet the government’s house building targets.
‘In West Sussex the limits on the County Council’s ability to open new schools, coupled with significant rising demand for school places, are impacting on the viability of new housing developments in Mid Sussex, Horsham, Adur and Crawley, where new schools are required to meet the needs of the growing community,’ the letter says.
Cllr Parkin said, ‘I’m pleased to be a co-signatory of this letter. The government must take another look at these figures and also realise that while it continues to insist on house building targets it must also allow us to develop the infrastructure these new communities need such as schools and GP surgeries.’
Cllr Humphries said, ‘There seems to be no sound reason that the schools in our neighbouring counties should benefit to the tune of millions of pounds a year extra. We are just asking for another look at this funding and for fairness.’
The letter has been sent to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond and all West Sussex MPs.