11-year-old from Ottery St Mary launches campaign to address underfunding in Devon schools

  Posted: 13.08.19 at 10:23 by Hannah Corfield

A petition for fairer school funding in Devon, started by an 11-year-old schoolgirl, has reached over 3600 signatures in ten days.

Elloise Sargent, from Ottery St Mary, was upset to learn that her school, along with many others in Devon, receives far less than the national average per child so she implored her mum Vicki Trebble-Sargent to help her try and change this.

The pair have launched a petition and created a Facebook group, Instagram and Twitter account named The Devon Campaign, to raise awareness of the issue.

They have also enlisted the support of over 50 other children and their families.

Vicki explained: “Education funding in the UK is far from fair. There are many areas across the UK that fall far from the average spend per child. Education should not be a postcode lottery.

“In Devon we receive £294 below the national average per child across the board. Our schools are struggling.

"They have already been doing too much with too little and many are at breaking point and discussing the move to 4 day weeks.”

One of the school federations working with them receives more than £87,000 less per year because they are in Devon and have had their maintenance budget reduced from over £64,000 a year to £6,500.

“All the kids are very upset as they are losing resources such as school trips and new books,” said Vicki. “My children are asking me why they are worth less, which is heart-breaking.”

Devon MPs have also been joining a national campaigning for fairer funding for schools, set up by the f40 education fair funding campaign group.

More than 80 MPs from all parties have written to former Chancellor Philip Hammond urging him to increase funding before permanent damage is done to the education of children across England.

The letter states: “The f40 group continues to have fundamental concerns about the new funding formula. We believe the Government has replaced one unfair system with another, as some of the historic unfairness has been locked into the new formula.”

“We are concerned that the formula does not give enough basic entitlement to schools and allows too much for add-ons, enabling big differences in funding to occur between different local authorities and schools.”

Devon County Council’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for schools, James McInnes, is the national chairman of f40 and says that Devon is one of the worst funded councils in the country with every child in one of the county’s schools worth £294 less than the national average.

“We welcome the new national funding formula and it has made a difference but it’s not right yet,” said James. “We are absolutely committed to getting a fair funding formula across the country.

"We must ensure the amount per child is enough to run a school. Currently schools are relying on all sorts of add-ons to be able to keep the doors open and that has to change.”

To support The Devon Campaign, sign the petition by clicking the red button below.

Or, visit the Facebook page @fairfundinginschools and share posts using the hashtag #WhyAmIWorthLess.

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