A CAMPAIGN group featuring Devon representatives that is seeking fairer funding for education has secured a debate on the issue in parliament this coming week.

Devon County Council HQ, County Hall in Exeter.
Devon County Council HQ, County Hall in Exeter. (LDRS)

The F40 group, which counts Devon County Council as a member, and whose vice-chair is Devon’s longest-serving MP, Sir Gary Streeter (Conservative, South West Devon), brings together authorities whose per pupil funding is among the worst in England.

The debate, which will take place in the House of Commons on Monday, January 8, comes as Devon is preparing to submit its bid to the government’s safety valve programme, which provides a bail-out for council’s facing steep education-related deficits.

As it stands, Devon is predicted to hit a cumulative deficit in its special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision of roughly £162 million by April.

Authorities are currently allowed to keep these deficits off their balance sheets until 2026. This can help councils avoid going bust.

Devon hopes to secure somewhere between £70 million to £100 million from the safety valve programme, according to comments last November by Angie Sinclair, Devon’s director of finance and public value.

Sir Gary wrote to chancellor Jeremy Hunt ahead of last year’s autumn statement, urging him to increase funding for higher needs pupils, as well as to provide “substantial additional SEND capital funding” above what had already been promised.

The F40 group predicts that an additional £4.6 billion in additional funding for high needs pupils is required across England.

Devon is ranked as the 42nd worst-funded authority out of 152 that have responsibility for education funding.

F40 authorities have more than 9,000 schools between them, which is 41 per cent of England’s schools, catering for around three million pupils, yet are among the worst funded in terms of per pupil funding.

Bradley Gerrard