Education minister visits Wigan primary school as new funding allocations announced

The education minister was in Wigan today (Friday) as details of the new funding schools will receive were unveiled.
Education minister Gavin Williamson at Westfield Community SchoolEducation minister Gavin Williamson at Westfield Community School
Education minister Gavin Williamson at Westfield Community School

Gavin Williamson toured Westfield Community School on Montrose Avenue as the Government announced primary and secondary schools will have their coffers filled.

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Wigan primary schools are in line to receive £4,196 per pupil in 2020-21 with high schools getting £5,369 per student.

In total the borough can expect to provisionally receive around £243m in the 2020-21 allocation, with around £208m in the block funding and a further £32m set aside for high needs pupils.

Mr Williamson said he was delighted to see the work at Westfield, which has been rated Outstanding by Ofsted, and said the funding announced would make a real difference to children’s lives.

He said: “I’ve absolutely loved seeing a primary school doing so much for the local community. It’s great to see what they are achieving.

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“The best way for towns like Wigan to continue to thrive and succeed in the future is by investing in education. If you don’t have skills and talent properly developed towns like Wigan will struggle.

“We have announced an increase in funding for every single pupil and every single school. I think this has an immediate impact in terms of making sure we have the right of level of funding.

“We’re also putting additional funding into special educational needs.

“We’ve seen a real improvement in terms of children’s outcomes over the last nine years and we’ve seen standards rising. I recognise the need to put more money in and that is what we are doing.”

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Mr Williamson said one of his key priorities was ensuring children are being taught by highly-skilled individuals.

He said: “The biggest impact will be in recruiting the very best teachers and retaining them.

“We’re increasing the starting salary and announcing a pension on top of that, to make an impresive graduate offer. We want the best teachers not to be going into other areas, we want them making a different to children’s lives.”

Critics have argued the new funding announcement represents little more than a sticking plaster which will not cover up the problems caused by huge cuts to budgets in the previous nine years of austerity.

Mr Williamson, though, brushed such concerns aside.

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He said: “We’ve spent more money on education every year and we are going over and above putting money into schools.

“We’re spending £850m a week on our schools, then next year we are spending £900m a week and £950m a week the year after that.

“Even those people who frankly will complain about everything would have to acknowledge this is a particularly substantial increase in funding.

“All the unions were surprised when we announced the increase in funding.”

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Mr Williamson visited Westfield as it has been taking part in a Department of Education scheme looking at ways of changing how things like marking are done in order to reduce the workload and burden on teachers and he wanted to thank the staff personally for their input.

He toured the classrooms to meet pupils, speaking to one group about being involved in politics and how much work door-knocking and speaking to voters goes into an election campaign.

Government figures show the North West is receiving a boost of £234m for its schools from April, an increase of 4.1 per cent per pupil.

Wigan, though, is doing slightly better than the regional average in its classrooms which means it will receive slightly less, with its cash influx coming to a 3.81 per cent increase in money and 2.62 per cent per pupil.

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Nationally every primary school is getting a minimum of £4,000 from 2021-22 and each high school is receiving at least £5,000 next year.

Across the country £2.6bn is being ploughed into education, with £14bn allocated over three years.