Richard Drax supports Petition

Richard Drax presented the Dorset Against School Cuts Petition in the House of Commons on the 6th of October 2020.

The MP for South Dorset’s Parliamentary Assistant, Harriet Newman, contacted Chris Bradey by e-mail on the 7th of October to confirm the presentation of the Petition.

Hansard records Richard Drax supporting the petition, although some might think he might have done so more wholeheartedly:

“It is a great pleasure to present this petition to the House. It is signed by more than 3,000 residents of Dorset and it calls for Purbeck schools to be funded properly and for the funding cuts to be reversed. I am delighted to say that, as we know, the Government have given more money to schools, but it is my personal view, too, that with all the additional moneys on salaries, inflation, the cost of paper and the rest of it, that levelling up, which we welcome, has not quite (my italics) helped schools in Dorset. I therefore present this petition with the sense, and in the hope, that the Government will look at this again and ensure that all our children, and particularly those in Dorset schools, are funded equally and fairly.”

Chris Bradey replied to Harriet that he thanked Richard Drax for presenting the petition. He said that his former Dorset Headteacher colleagues were now facing the challenge of Coronavirus: they would welcome the support shown by their MP in the Commons that their schools be funded “equally and fairly”.

Following is the full text of the petition:

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that schools in Purbeck are currently facing significant funding cuts leaving numerous schools underfunded; notes that over three thousand residents of Dorset signed a petition to save Purbeck schools from funding cuts; and further that every child in Dorset has the right to a good, well-funded education.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reverse all funding cuts to Dorset Schools, and support the reallocation of funding to ensure schools in Dorset are well-funded and able to perform effectively.

And the petitioners remain, etc.


Dorset Against School Cuts – a response to Richard Drax

Over three thousand residents and visitors to Swanage signed this petition asking our MP, Richard Drax, to do all he could to ensure that Dorset schools were well funded and that Dorset children were able to achieve their very best.

At present, 103 out of 150 Dorset state schools are under resourced as a result of cuts – a shortfall in funding in 2020 of £4.4m, meaning an average loss per pupil across the county of £94.

South Dorset has the lowest social mobility of all English parliamentary constituencies – 533rd out of 533 constituencies. This is a sad state of affairs.

Dorset teachers and support staff are now facing the challenge of coronavirus. They deserve our support – as, indeed, do all those others upon whom we rely – NHS staff, carers, shop workers – all those whom we so often take for granted.

Campaigners met with Richard Drax in February of this year in Westminster. They gave Mr Drax the petition, and spoke to him of the challenges faced by Swanage schools.

Richard Drax presented the Petition in the Commons on the 6th of October.

He said that the petition asked for Purbeck schools to be funded properly and for funding cuts to be reversed.

Although stating that he was “delighted” that the Government had given more money to schools (something many headteachers and teachers would dispute), he went on to say that it was his “personal view” that this “levelling up … (had) … not quite helped schools in Dorset”.

He spoke of the “additional monies on salaries, inflation, the cost of paper and the rest of it” – the real, day to day costs of running schools – which present levels of funding did not support.

It was these costs campaigners had spoken of when they met with Richard Drax – and how Swanage schools had suffered as a result of under funding – senior staff clearing blocked toilets, an end to enrichment activities, headteachers driving minibuses, teaching assistants being made redundant, parents buying stationary – all those consequences which are still holding back the learning of Swanage children.

Richard Drax said in the Commons that he hoped the Government would “look at this again, and ensure that all our children, and particularly those in Dorset schools are funded equally and fairly”.

If he is to be truly a champion of children in his constituency, Mr Drax must press for serious and urgent action to be taken by the Government to support Dorset Schools.

It is not the case that extra funding has “not quite” helped schools in Dorset – Dorset schools remain under-funded, some direly so – and have been, since 2015.

It will not be a matter of hoping for remedial action, but of demanding it, and fighting for it.

Every child in Dorset has the right to a good, well-funded education.

Yours sincerely

Chris Bradey

Co-ordinator, with Claire Hodgson, Dorset Against School Cuts