Labour’s Central Bedfordshire councillors have slammed the Conservative administration for failing school pupils, particularly in Houghton Regis.
Antonia Ryan, representing the town’s Parkside ward, said: “In Houghton Regis, 80% of the schools are failing and there is a clear funding gap that needs to be addressed. Families in Houghton Regis are hard working and they deserve better than this. These are very worrying times, our teachers and pupils are working extremely hard, and we need Central Bedfordshire Council to address this as a matter of urgency and start funding our schools appropriately.”
She went on to describe the school results as “truly shocking,” with schools in more affluent areas of Central Bedfordshire described as possibly ‘coasting,’ while Key Stage 2 data released for 2016 shows an attainment gap of 32 percentage points between disadvantaged pupils in Central Bedfordshire and the national average. This leaves Central Bedfordshire ranking 9th out of 11 against their statistical neighbours, and 142nd out of 150 local authorities in the national rankings.
28 local schools in Leighton Buzzard, Totternhoe and Woburn Sands - working in collaboration as LC2 - announced last week that they expect to lose funding to the tune of £365 per pupil next year thanks to the government’s new funding formula for CBC, at a time when they have already had to absorb increases in National Insurance and pension contributions on top of normal inflation without any help from the Department for Education.
Central Bedfordshire is already one of the lowest-funded education authorities in the country. Our schools face the same entirely avoidable problems as Bedfordshire Police Authority - problems that are entirely predictable when, it seems, we always get the rough end of the funding deal.