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Gedling MP Vernon Coaker hits out at lack of school funding at crisis conference

A Gedling MP has called government funding of schools ‘an absolute disgrace’ at a conference in Nottingham yesterday.

Vernon Coaker was one of the speakers at a ‘crisis’ conference held at Meadow Lane football stadium yesterday to discuss how city and county schools are facing significant funding shortfalls.

Attendees heard that pupils in the county will lose an average of £296 per pupil between 2015 and 2020.

The group Save Our Schools, which campaigns for increased funding, says 82 out of 84 schools in the city will face cuts before 2020.

However the Government says funding is at record levels, and that education outcomes are improving.

At the conference yesterday which was made up of teachers and head teachers from across the East Midlands, several spoke up to say that the reality at their school was that severe savings were having to be made.

The conference heard from one head teacher from a school in Lincolnshire, who said she had been in tears because of the cuts she had been forced to make, which had left her with a stress-related illness.

Speaking at the conference, the Gedling MP for Labour, and former deputy head teacher Vernon Coaker, said: “Head teachers are having to make decisions not about how to improve education at their schools, but about which teaching assistants to get rid of, which teachers to get rid of.

“It is a disgrace for one of the richest countries in the world to be in this position.”

Speaking about the Government’s claim that spending had increased, Mr Coaker said: “The Government’s response is to rubbish our figures, but the figures we use are the Government’s own figures.”

He said issues such as an increase in the number of pupils, the introduction of the living wage, increased pension contributions and unfunded pay rises were all contributing to the financial pinch being felt in schools.

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He also said the education area facing the biggest shortfall was the provision of care and education for young people with disabilities.

He said: “It is an absolute disgrace and scandal what’s happening to some people with special needs in our country.

“This is not only a political challenge but a moral challenge for us as a country, to say we are not prepared to see this situation in our schools.”

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