Suffolk's schools among worst funded in country

SUFFOLK'S schools are among the lowest funded in England, with spending per pupil well below the national total.

Graham Dines

SUFFOLK'S schools are among the lowest funded in England, with spending per pupil well below the national total.

The county is second from bottom in a league table of nine education authorities in the East of England, which are all receiving less cash than the average.

When it comes to traditional shire counties, Suffolk lags behind Norfolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and the former county of Bedfordshire.

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The shock figures, published in response to a written parliamentary question, reveal that in 2008-09, spending in Suffolk was �4,323 per pupil. Luton led the way in the region with �4,957, just below the national average for education authorities of �5,000.

In the past four years, there has been little difference between Suffolk and bottom of the table Cambridgeshire in the spending on children in education between the ages of three and 19.

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Suffolk has slightly improved from the bottom position it held in 2004-05 and 2005-06, the last two years for which figures were split between primary pupils up to the age of 10 and for secondary children between 11 and 15.

Between 2005-06 and 2008-09, the Suffolk spending increased 9.2% from �3,957 to �4,323, with the largest regional rise occurring in Thurrock, which saw an increase of 10% to �4,699.

Simon White, Suffolk county council's director for children, schools and young people's services, said: “Before 2005/6 there was a different funding regime and it is difficult to compare the two systems. On the basis of these figures it looks like Suffolk received less government grant per pupil than other eastern shire counties until 2006/2007, but the differences are marginal.

“In 2008-09 the system means there is only a 5% difference between the lowest funding per pupil and the highest Hertfordshire. Any difference will be largely historical or attributed to relatively minor differences in terms of deprivation.”

However, Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, described the low spending on Suffolk schoolchildren as another example of the “flagrant” funding difference between services in the shire counties and urban areas.

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