AN MP who used to work in a Winsford school is leading calls on the ‘urgent need’ for extra education funding.

Former teacher Laura Smith, Labour MP for Crewe and Nantwich, was elected in 2017’s General Election after leading calls for fairer schools funding across Cheshire East.

Ms Smith, who worked at St Chad’s CE Primary School, is now Labour’s vice-chairman of the F40 Group – a cross-party organisation that represents boroughs that receive low funding for education, including both Cheshire East and Cheshire West.

She told a National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT) union summit in Crewe that it is important to be ‘honest about the reality’ teachers are now working in.

Ms Smith said: “The new funding formula is based on historical averages, rather than on the real cost of running schools, and it is therefore still unfair.

“I believe that every single child matters, that everyone has something to offer, and that it is a tragedy for any child not to reach their full potential because of the failure to invest in their future.

“In today’s classrooms are tomorrow’s workforce and our future leaders – failure to invest in that is so short-sighted, and it is unforgivable.

“This issue has not gone away and we won’t stop until we get what our young people deserve.”

The mum-of-two told the summit that the new funding formula for schools is ‘based on historical averages, rather than the real cost of running schools’ – and that schools in her constituency have seen real terms cuts of 6.5 per cent since 2013-14.

This, Ms Smith added, has led to teaching assistants being cut from schools – increasing workloads on teaching staff.

She also claimed that provision for special educational needs (SEN) is now at crisis point – and that one of her own case workers was forced to do training on SEN law as a result.

Cllr Nicole Meardon, Cheshire West and Chester Council cabinet member for children and young people, also called on the Government to review spending on education at the NAHT summit.

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She said: “Cheshire West, like Cheshire East, is one of the worst funded areas for education in the country.

“And it is not just about how those funds are distributed, it is about that not being big enough.

“It needs to change, it needs to meet the needs of how we all would expect our education system to look, and it needs to be based on evidence – what it costs to run a school, before we add any factors like deprivation.”

The summit was also told that cuts to children’s services in local government are having a knock-on effect on schools which are expected to pick up additional work.

Cheshire East Council is due to approve its schools funding formula at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, while CWAC approved its schools funding formula for 2019-20 last November – with 0.5 per cent of schools funding available to be ringfenced for ‘high needs’ use under Government policy.

Schools across the country are expected to move onto the new national funding formula in 2021.

In the 2018 Annual Report on Education Spending in England, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that total school spending per pupil has fallen by eight per cent in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18.

The IFS says this was mainly due to a 55 per cent cut to local authority spending on services, and cuts of more than 20 per cent to sixth-form funding, while per pupil funding for primary and secondary schools is now four per cent below its peak in 2015.

A spokesman at the Department for Education said: “Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school but we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more.

“In December, we announced £250 million additional funding for high needs over this year and the next, bringing the total high needs budget to over £6 billion this year, up from £5 billion in 2013.

“We’re supporting schools and headteachers to make the most of their budgets and reduce the over £10 billion they spend on non-staffing costs such as energy, water bills and materials.”