Council withholds £64k in funding for Lewes school, says MP

Priory School, Lewes
Priory School, Lewes

A total of £64,000 in funding earmarked for Priory School, Lewes, is being withheld by East Sussex County Council, says local MP Maria Caulfield.

She said it was “disappointing” and is urgently seeking a meeting with council leaders to resolve the issue.

Ms Caulfield’s lobbying of the Department for Education to see school funding increased in Lewes was successful last year, with an eight per cent increase, and this year, with a six per cent increase.

But when she informed the schools about the extra money a number of head teachers told a different story, highlighting discrepancies between what the Government was giving to East Sussex County Council for schools and what the schools are actually getting.

Following discussions with Priory School it has been found that £64,000 of funding the Government planned for it has been held back by the county council.

Ms Caulfield asked the Prime Minister in Parliament: “School funding is one of the top issues with schools in Lewes receiving for decades 50 per cent less funding per pupil than in neighbouring Brighton and Hove. Despite the Government giving a six per cent increase in funding last year, schools like Priory School, which should be getting this year a 7.52 per cent increase from the Government, are seeing £64,000 being held back by the local council. What can the Prime Minister do to ensure schools receive the full funding increase?”

Theresa May responded: “I think my Honourable Friend has raised an important point because we have recognised that we have asked schools to do more, we’ve responded to that with the highest level of school funding on record.

“We have introduced the new national funding formula to make the distribution fairer but of course it is still the case that local authorities are responsible for determining individual schools’ budgets from the overall funds that they have received and they have a responsibility to make sure where schools should receive extra money the local authority pass it on.

“But I will also ask the Department for Education, who will have heard her question, to write to her in more detail.”

Ms Caulfield said later: “I have worked hard to win extra funding desperately needed for local schools and it is disappointing to see some of it being held back by local councils rather than going directly into frontline services for local children.

“I will be urgently seeking a meeting with the East Sussex County Council leadership to address this issue and will continue to lobby both the council and the Government for more funding for schools across Lewes.”