Labour slams Conservative maths bungle that will leave schools in Harlow worse off next year  

Education / Sun 5th Nov 2023 at 09:20am

LABOUR today lambasted the “the Conservatives’ staggering mathematical incompetence” which will see schools in Essex lose £10.3m next year.  

The Department for Education last month admitted to miscalculating the amounts of funding due to be granted to state schools in England next year, amounting to a £370m error in the information they gave schools in July.  

Analysis of updated funding figures released today by Labour has found that schools in Essex will be on average £47 per pupil down next year due to the Conservatives’ school budget maths bungle. Labour’s analysis found that: 

  • Schools in East region are set to be £44m worse off in total, higher than the average £38m. 
  • Schools in Harlow constituency are set to be over half a million pounds worse off in total. 
  • Schools across Essex local authority area are set to be worse off by £10.3m in total. 

Labour said the latest gaffe at the Department for Education will cause yet more pain for schools already struggling to balance budgets after years of uncertainty over long-term funding and threatened to further weaken the relationship between local schools and families.  

The Party said that trust in the school’s system was already at breaking point due to the daysof learning missed by children in recent years.  

Labour pointed to the decisions taken by the Conservatives to open pubs before schools during covid, to prolong strike action by refusing to negotiate with trade unions and to cut funding for school rebuilding, leading to the dangerous RAAC concrete crisis which has affected hundreds of schools, causing many to shut their doors.   

Shortly after revealing the error, Conservative Education Secretary Gillian Keegan raised eyebrows by claiming that her Party’s stunning by-election defeats in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth “did not show a swing to Labour”. The swing to Labour in Tamworth was 23.9 per cent, while the swing to Labour in Mid Bedfordshire was 20.5 per cent. If that’s a demonstration of the mathematical ability within the DfE it’s no surprise they have bungled the budgets.

Chris Vince, Labour Candidate for Harlow said: 

This is one of a long line of examples where the Department for Education (DfE) has let down young people and their parents in our town.   

If it wasn’t enough for young people at SFG college being unable to return to school after half term and other schools in Harlow having issues related to crumbling concrete (RAAC), we now know schools across the constituency are going to miss out on funding due to government incompetence. 

As a former Maths teacher, my school report to this government would read ‘must do better’. 

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: 

“Rishi Sunak wants young people to learn maths to 18, but he ought to get his own house in order first and teach Conservative Education Ministers how to count.  

“Ministers’ staggering mathematical incompetence follows hot on the heels of disruption caused by the Conservatives which has pushed our schools to breaking point.   

“It’s no wonder that the relationship between families, schools and government is at rock bottom – education simply isn’t a priority for the Conservatives.   

“Labour’s priority will be to put education at the heart of national life again, and to rebuild the trust between schools, families and government so that we can drive high and rising standards in our classrooms, supporting children to achieve and thrive.  

“We will start by recruiting 6,500 more teachers and put mental health counsellors in every secondary school, paid for by ending private schools’ tax breaks.” 

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5 Comments for Labour slams Conservative maths bungle that will leave schools in Harlow worse off next year  :

2023-11-05 09:49:37

If the DFE can't get it's basic sums right what hope is there for education? Hint: Cost per child × number of children = ?

2023-11-05 12:55:22

When they end private school "tax breaks" as they claim, and 100K more kids who's parents pay for a place they do not use suddenly hit the state system it will put pressure on the schools even more.

David Forman
2023-11-05 13:02:13

Harlow Labour 'politicians' forget their own incompetence. Take the Local Government Association review of our council and HTS which highlighted numerous issues that Labour mismanaged.

2023-11-05 14:40:43

This myth of ending public school tax breaks will put a massive strain may play well in the likes of the Telegraph, but it shows how unfair the system is. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/oct/08/english-private-school-fees-90-higher-than-state-school-spending-per-pupil Private school fees have risen greatly over the last decade. And yet the fees are still paid. Perhaps we should all shed a tear for these poor private schools? I would play my violin, but I can't find it. It's very, very, small. It's funny how the Tories are somehow able to do maths well enough to give private schools advantageous tax breaks, but are bad enough not to understand that underfunding state schools will have consequences. As for other Tory incompetence, perhaps they need to be able to count and work out what a 2/3 majority is. Clue: not enough Tory councillors, so why waste public money and start the process in the first place?

Kim Oconnor
2023-11-06 09:16:29

David, your lot haven't rectified it either.

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