12 January 2024
Meeting with DfE Regional Schools Commissioner

Rural schools have higher costs compared to those in urban areas and, for decades, were very often underfunded in comparison to their urban counterparts. They also face a wide variety of different, acute challenges compared to urban schools that need different solutions and support.

That’s why, throughout my time as the local MP, I have been one of our local education sectors biggest advocates, supporting them locally, while also lobbying in Westminster for greater funding, support and resources to ensure areas like Mid Norfolk are not left behind, but rather get the assistance they need to ensure local youngsters, whatever their background, get the education they need and deserve.  

I therefore welcomed the chance to meet with DfE Regional Schools Commissioner for the East, Jonathan Duff, again yesterday to share with him the ongoing feedback I have received from local headteachers and staff over recent months and ensure Mid Norfolk’s voice is being heard.

 The main topics we discussed were:

  • Fairer Funding for Rural Schools
  • SEND funding and provision
  • The role and conduct of Ofsted

A lot of positive progress has been made here in Norfolk – especially with regards to the expansion and improvement of SEND provision. I am particularly proud to have supported the campaign that will now see the wonderful Fred Nicholson School relocate to a new, fit-for-purpose site in nearby Swaffham (see here and here) – having previously helped get over the line the campaign to relocate Chapel Road School in Attleborough to a new state-of-the-art facility at Chapel Green in Old Buckenham (see here and here). I am also delighted to see the enormous strides being made by Norfolk County Council to expand specialist place provision, as well as SEND support in our mainstream rural schools.

There is still much more to do however – which is why I continue to campaign hard on these issues, and for greater funding for rural schools in general. And why I support our local headteachers who want to see Ofsted properly reformed so that there efforts to drive up school standards do not cause undue stress and in fact undermine the work being done by many of our fantastic schools locally.

I look forward to connecting with many of our local headteachers in my next virtual forum with them next week.

To stay up to date with all my campaign work on ‘Fairer Rural Schools Funding and Support’, please click here.

To stay up to date with my work on ‘SEND support in our local schools’, please visit my campaign page here.