Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Helping children to realise their potential

On 12 October the Government announced that it will be increasing the amount it is providing through the Pupil Premium this year for disadvantaged pupils in schools in England to £488 per pupil. Children from low income families generally do not achieve as well as those from more advantaged backgrounds. The Premium, which will be provided for pupils known to be eligible for free school meals in January 2011, will support schools in helping them in reaching their potential. The attainment of looked after children is also generally lower than average and the funding we are providing through the Premium for them will also be £488 per pupil.
In the constituency of Truro and Falmouth 38 schools will receive £625,421 for 2011-2012. Parents and others with an interest in school funding are able to access this information through the below link:

This is a significant investment  in helping children who need some extra help to reach their potential. The Pupil Premium was a key election pledge of the Conservative Party. It won’t make up for the fact that Cornwall’s schools have historically been under-funded as a result of national funding formulas favouring large, urban centres and I will continue to hold the Government to its word of correcting this unfairness as soon as possible.

Helping young people to stay in education after their sixteenth birthday and make the best choices that suit them is a key priority for schools, colleges as well as government local and national. I am delighted by the pro-active work in schools and colleges in this constituency to provide a wide-range of choices and help youngsters to make the most of the first class local opportunities for higher education. Since schools have become Academies, they have more freedom to work with their local community to provide opportunities for youngsters to reach their potential. Initiatives such as the compact between Penryn College and University College Falmouth are to be welcomed.

Affording to stay on in education can be a real issue for some young people and I welcome Cornwall Council’s initiative to supplement the funds being made by central government for the 16-19 Bursary Fund (the replacement for EMA). Although the new fund will deliver £1,208,590 to education providers across Cornwall in 2011-2012, I am sure any extra funds from Cornwall Council will be appreciated.  As the cost of transport can often be the greatest barrier to choosing the best course, I also welcome Cornwall Council’s approach to reviewing all the transport subsidies it provides. It provides funding not only for the National Concessionary Bus Pass Scheme but school and other transport. 

I was pleased to be able to represent the Council’s calls to central government to enable more flexibility in how they deliver subsidised transport in a debate in Parliament last week. Given the difficult financial situation, it is vitally important that Cornwall Council is  given the flexibility to work with local people to find new ways of delivering  vital public services.

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