Bedford schools to receive £179 million but Borough Councillor says it isn’t enough

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Schools in Bedford Borough will receive a total of £179m next school year from central government, as part of a plan the Conservatives call ‘Build back better’.

They say the money can be used for hiring specialist teachers, providing training and purchasing school supplies.

Specialist providers can also access some of the funds to help provide the right care and support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

Cllr John Wheeler (Conservative, Wooton) says it’s good news, “this is a welcome funding boost for our schools from the Conservative Government who are delivering their aim of levelling up across the country.

“Every pupil deserves an excellent education and every chance to fulfil their potential and I hope this extra funding will go some way into ensuring Bedford’s young people can thrive and succeed.”

But the portfolio holder for education and children’s services at Bedford Borough Council has criticised the way the funding has been described with “meaningless slogans”.

“After more than a decade of underfunding and cuts from the Conservative Government, this long-overdue uplift in funding is of course welcome,” said Cllr James Valentine (Labour).

“However, calling it ‘levelling up’ or building back better’ is masking the facts with meaningless slogans.

“The facts are that – even with this increase – education funding is still far less in real terms than it was 10 years ago. Some of our Special Education Needs funding which was partly funded via the Designated Schools Grant is now no longer allowed to be.

“Special Educational Needs has always been woefully under-financed by this Tory Government, and there is a shortage of special school places.

“The impact of the pandemic has cost all schools a great deal and the Government grants have been utterly insufficient, with nowhere near enough laptops, very little catch-up funding, and only nominal attempts to help with ventilation in school – and those attempts months too late.”

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