Earlier this month I invited the chairmen of governors of all the schools in my constituency to meet me to discuss funding pressures affecting their schools.
Over the last couple of weeks I have held ‘roundtables’ with the great majority of them and I am grateful for the constructive, positive discussions we have had. I have also been to meetings of governors in local primary schools to see the impressive job they are doing in often challenging circumstances.
I was a governor at a couple of inner city London schools back in the 1990’s and I know what a high pressure job it was then, and it has certainly become a lot more demanding since.
We should all be grateful for the parents, teachers and community representatives who give up their time to help do the best for our local schools. The governors were able to give me specific examples of what pressures their school budgets are still facing despite the additional £28million we were able to secure for West Sussex schools last year.
This is especially helpful when going in to do battle with the Department for Education and ministers to get the fair funding deal we still need for West Sussex. I am afraid that the circular letters berating government for all the ills in education being promoted by unions and some head teachers have become too political and frankly counter-productive.
Most of the governors had been kept completely in the dark about the letter sent to the media attacking me recently and agree that the only way we are going to get fair funding for schools is by working closely together with MPs, schools and parents, which is what I am keen to continuing doing.
I am particularly concerned about the difficulty in accessing counselling and other mental health services for pupils and the extra demands on support for special educational needs and I took away from these meetings much to take up with local health trusts and the County Council and in Parliament.
We also discussed the situation with local school places in the light of the demand from families moving into the area with the many new developments.
Parents have been concerned about availability of secondary school places in Shoreham, as Shoreham Academy has become a victim of its own success and is oversubscribed. Pupils from Adur have historically enjoyed a wider range of schools in Lancing and Worthing which have spare capacity or are expanding.
To make parents aware of the full range of places on offer and plans to increase capacity, the County Local Committee will be devoting its next meeting on June 21 to Adur school places and all primary school parents with children moving to secondary school in 2019 are encouraged to come and question education officers, councillors and head teachers. The venue will be confirmed shortly.
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