Hexham MP Guy Opperman defends eduction policies in Northumberland

Hexham MP Guy Opperman speaks out after Newcastle Royal Grammar School head Bernard Trafford attacks funding situation

Hexham MP Guy Opperman
Hexham MP Guy Opperman

A Tory MP has hit back after a leading North head teacher attacked the Government’s education policy.

Hexham’s Guy Opperman spoke out after Newcastle Royal Grammar School head Bernard Trafford said the Government was no friend of private schools and had messed up education funding.

Dr Trafford said: “A school from which we receive wonderful children is Ponteland Middle School, judged outstanding in every respect at its last Ofsted inspection, but it’s the worst-funded middle school in Britain.

“It just has the misfortune to be in a more prosperous part of a poor county, Northumberland.

“Some people might say it doesn’t take lots of money to achieve excellence, but I think the head, Caroline Pryer, and her staff deserve better.”

Mr Opperman though says the head has “mislead” parents with his comments, saying that recently announced changes to state school funding would see Northumberland’s schools funding increase by £10.6m from April.

Dr Bernard Trafford Headmaster of the Royal Grammar School, Jesmond
Dr Bernard Trafford Headmaster of the Royal Grammar School, Jesmond

The MP said: “I am sure Dr Trafford is a good headteacher, but on this issue of fairer funding he simply has his facts wrong, and seems unaware of changes this year. After many decades of underfunding this Government has reconsidered the funding formula to give schools in my area such as Ponteland Middle School a better deal. The first stage in this process will see schools in Northumberland share an extra £10.6m in funding.

“If Dr Trafford insists in continually attacking the Government he would do well to know the detail. We have been campaigning day and night for fairer funding for our schools. For him to completely ignore the progress we have made is very misleading.”

Mr Opperman had raised the issue of fairer funding at last week’s Prime Ministers Questions. He added: “Inequalities in the national funding formula have meant that for decades Northumberland, and other local authorities, have lost out. We have made huge strides forward in our campaign to secure this extra £10.6m for Northumberland’ schools.

“Under the new settlement we have secured, Northumberland’s per pupil funding rate will increase by around £269 per pupil per year.”

Dr Trafford made his claims in an address to parents at Newcastle Royal Grammar School’s annual speech day last week.


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