17 May 2023
Rural Schools Funding and Support

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.  

That’s why, following numerous conversations with heads, teachers and governors over recent weeks and months, I am raising the issue of rural schools funding and support with ministers and officials once again.

Back in 2010, there was a widespread appreciation that, after over a decade of Labour Government, the country needed to tighten its belts and work hard to erase the deficit (the highest in the United Kingdom’s peacetime history) and begin reducing the national debt.

Over the past thirteen years, I have been struck by how many local teachers, heads, governors and parents shared that appreciation and urgency – and I have watched with great admiration as rural schools in Mid Norfolk have worked tirelessly to deliver “more for less”. Rarely, if ever, have they complained of the greater financial constraints within which they have had to operate during this time.

I am acutely aware however that rising costs and pressures over the past couple of years are presenting a very significant challenge to many schools in our area. Small rural schools have higher costs and face different challenges in comparison to their urban counterparts – and I am determined to speak up on behalf of our local Mid Norfolk schools to ensure their voices are being heard at the highest levels.

While the DfE’s new SEND funding announcement for Norfolk back in March was very welcome news, with NCC already putting into action work that will deliver much positive support as a result (see more here), I am also aware of the continued challenges many of our schools face in terms of SEND support. I acknowledge their frustration with OFSTED too – with many highlighting to me in recent months that, although they do not believe it should be abolished or that our education system should have no inspectorate, they believe it must be reformed in order to better encourage improvements in standards, support schools and reduce the levels of stress and demoralisation it can often cause staff and students.

Rest assured, I remain firmly committed to doing everything I can to help speak up for our local Mid Norfolk schools on these issues too and, after conversations with many of my local schools, intend to establish a regular online forum for myself and local heads – at which they can speak with me directly about any issues they might be having, in addition to the usual correspondence we often exchange with one another. I look forward to reaching out to my Mid Norfolk headteachers in the coming days.

To see some of my previous work lobbying for fairer rural schools funding and support, please click here and here

To see more on my work specifically in support of SEND provision in our local mainstream and specialist schools, please visit my campaign page here)

George Freeman MP speaking in the House of Commons