Peterborough MP Lisa Forbes: The education gap that shames us all

As per-pupil funding continues to fall under this Tory government, it comes as no surprise that the most disadvantaged pupils are bearing the brunt of brutal cuts to education, writes Peterborough MP Lisa Forbes.

Saturday, 7th September 2019, 7:00 am
Headteachers from across England and Wales hold signs in Parliament Square, London, as they prepare to march on Downing Street to demand extra cash for schools. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday September 28, 2018. See PA story EDUCATION Headteachers. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire EMN-180928-141455001

A report by the Education Policy Institute last month found that on average, pupils on free school meals in Peterborough leave school two years behind their peers.

But families in Peterborough didn’t need a report to tell them what they already know.

This is one of the most damning disadvantage gaps in the country, with only four other local authorities reporting this chasm in attainment.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I have been inundated with emails from parents who are concerned about the cuts schools are having to make, and whether these will impact on their children’s opportunities and grades.

This government refuses to realise that cuts have consequences, and it is the poorest in society who are suffering the most.

Every child deserves the opportunity to unlock their full potential, but at the moment, many are being stifled by the austerity of successive Conservative governments.

Simply put, schools in Peterborough deserve a better deal.

For the last nine years, school budgets have been decimated in pursuit of cost-cutting. They’re being forced to lay off staff and find as many savings as they can at a time when we should be investing in our schools and young people to ensure they have the best start in life.

Teachers have enough to worry about without worrying about their own future and job security.

Across the constituency, we are losing SEND specialists who have a vital role to play in helping students with special needs assimilate into life at school.

This will be the legacy of this Conservative government. While Boris Johnson claims he’s going to increase the minimum amount of per-pupil funding, the reality is that his pledge won’t help the vast majority of schools in Peterborough, and they will be forced to continue cost-cutting.

On education, on schools, and on the future of our children, you cannot trust a word that Boris Johnson says.

Labour will ensure that every school up and down the country has the resources they need to tackle this disadvantage gap and ensure that no matter their background or family income, children are offered the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

We will simply not accept the current unjust scenario whereby your household income dictates what kind of education your children get. We must scrap this two-tier education system that penalises the poorest in society.

This is done by giving our schools the funding they deserve.

Education is an investment in our children and the future of this country and until we take the funding crisis in education seriously, schools, teachers, parents, and pupils will continue to suffer.

I am of the belief that every child in Peterborough has huge, unlocked potential. It is a damning state of affairs when this is being stifled by reckless Tory cuts.