OPINION: East Ham MP Stephen Timms is fighting for a fair deal for Newham's schools
PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 March 2017
We can all feel proud that, last week, Tafsia Shikdar became the first Newham student ever offered a place at the world famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Standards in Newham schools have rocketed. The council has made school standards a top priority. Labour Government policies in 1997-2010 were key to making progress possible.
Labour introduced Education Action Zones. As schools minister in 2002, I introduced TeachFirst, helping recruit outstanding teachers into Newham schools. But most important of all was Labour’s big boost to school funding.
This is now under threat. Conservative MPs complain about schools in rural areas getting less funding than London schools. So ministers have compiled a National Schools Funding Formula, to determine the budget of every school in the country. Councils won’t get a say. I have always worried this will be a cover for taking money away from schools in areas like ours. So it is proving.
Ministers claimed their initial proposals took account of deprivation. They seemed to me, however, clearly biased against inner city schools. For example, they took no account of the fact that – in Newham – a lot of pupils come and go during a year, making the job of schools harder than in areas with less movement.
So I went to see schools minister Nick Gibb, to argue for a school ‘mobility factor’ to be included in the formula. I was delighted when, just before Christmas, the government announced a new version of the formula, and the mobility factor was included. As a result, Newham schools stand to gain over £2 million per year. In my view, it should be more.
Research by the National Union of Teachers shows Newham to be among the biggest losers from the new formula. I will continue to fight for a fair deal for our schools. More from Stephen