I was delighted with the announcement that several schools across Mid-Cornwall will be receiving investment from the Government’s Condition Improvement Fund for 2016/17. More than £3 million has been awarded to schools in our constituency for building repair and improvement work.
This year Newquay Tretherras, Bishop Bronescombe School in St Austell and St Dennis Primary Academy have all made successful bids for the funding, of which £435 million has been released for 1,276 projects at 1,030 academies and sixth-form colleges across the country. These awards follow recent funding that has enabled other local schools such as those at Nanpean and Charlestown to expand.
The core priority of Condition Improvement Funding is keeping academy and sixth-form college buildings safe and in good working order. Most CIF funding aims to address significant issues with school facilities that other funding streams cannot meet. These include issues with poor building condition, building compliance, energy efficiency and health and safety.
The Condition Improvement Fund grants are awarded on a competitive basis so the individual schools are to be congratulated for their successful bids. I look forward to seeing these improvements come to fruition.
While improvements to buildings are important and necessary, a bigger task lies ahead. For far too long school children in Cornwall have been on the losing side of an out-dated funding formula.
I was pleased when the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan announced consultation on a National Funding Formula for schools across the country. As she said herself, the current system is “outdated, inefficient and unfair”, a statement I wholeheartedly agree with.
Constructing the new funding formula will not be easy and I see it as my job to fight for the issues that impact Cornwall. Funding needs to reflect need and deprivation and the challenges of rural areas as well as basic cost. Many assume that the provision of education is cheaper outside London, but of course in rural areas, it is often more expensive not cheaper.
Cornwall has fallen behind other areas and so we not only need equality, but also the chance to catch up with other areas. I know that many of my Conservative colleagues across the South West have constituencies that find themselves in similar circumstances to St Austell and Newquay. This is another opportunity for us to work together to influence the Government for the good of our region, and I look forward to working with them to make that happen.
Cornish school children have been short changed for decades. Children who learn in a safe and well-funded environment learn with confidence, are given the chance to aspire to a better life and will be better placed to succeed in the adult world. It is time that all our children have this chance and I will continue to work hard to that end.
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