Pupils to benefit as fight for transport continues

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Schools in Northumberland could benefit after a “grossly unfair” difference in the amount of funding provided to the region compared with other parts of the UK was highlighted.

The government has proposed an additional £10.6 million funding for Northumberland’s schools, which is the equivalent of an extra £270 per pupil.

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beath has said the allocation must go ahead following a consultation on the proposal, which ended last week.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sir Alan said: “There has been a grossly unfair difference in the amount of funding provided to Northumberland and that provided to other parts of the country, particularly wealthier parts of London.”

Liberal Democrat campaigner Julie Pörksen added: “We have struggled for years as first the Conservatives and then Labour did nothing to recognise that education in rural areas needs to be properly funded, and because in rural areas distance means there is no choice when sending children to school, we must ensure that schools can provide high-quality education.

“This additional £10.6 million will be a real help to schools in both the rural and urban parts of Northumberland.”

Meanwhile the campaign to retain funding for post 16 transport to education in Northumberland is continuing.

Northumberland County Council’s Labour administration has identified post 16 transport as a possible saving, and has mooted the idea of reducing financial help or scrapping it all together. This could place financial burdens of up to £450 a year on students wanting to continue their studies.

Conservative candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan has spoken out against the plans to alter the current student travel scheme for young people in post-16 education, but insists it is not too late for people to respond to the consultation currently on the Council’s website.

“This proposed change will mean that rural young people in particular will be discriminated against as many have to travel long distances,” she said. “We should be encouraging learning to be easier to access, not making it more difficult. This is a tax on teenagers pure and simple so we should be fighting it with everything we have.

“There is still everything to play for. Keeping the current scheme is still an option, so I call on everyone, especially parents or students who are going to be heavily hit if the cut is forced through, to have their say now.”

The consultation began in February and runs until 9am on May 19.

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