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'Don't ignore poverty' inner city mayors urge PM with new funding formula for schools

PUBLISHED: 14:05 06 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:06 10 January 2017

Mayor John Biggs facing cuts by Theresa May's government

Mayor John Biggs facing cuts by Theresa May's government

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The Mayor in one of Britain's most deprived areas has called on the Prime Minister to scrap her planned changes to school funding which threaten cuts in areas with children from the poorest backgrounds.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs looks westward to the Govenment in a 'bulldog' plea over school fundingTower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs looks westward to the Govenment in a 'bulldog' plea over school funding

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs made his appeal to Downing Street—along with 23 other inner city mayors and council leaders across the country—pleading for the government to reverse planned changes to the schools’ budget funding formula which at present is weighted to help children from deprived backgrounds.

The inner city leaders say the changes would reverse progress made in the past 10 years.

Examples include latest league tables showing Tower Hamlets primary schools ranked 11th in the country for children achieving standards in the Three Rs.

What worries Mayor John Biggs is a new formula no longer takes poverty or deprivation into account when handing out funds to schools.

East End children learning IT coding at Bethnal Green's Rochelle PrimaryEast End children learning IT coding at Bethnal Green's Rochelle Primary

He and the other council leaders signed an open letter to Downing Street pointing out that schools in deprived areas face a £245m annual loss, while affluent areas would gain £218m.

“Our schools produce amazing exam results despite Tower Hamlets being one of the most deprived places in the country,” he told the East London Advertiser. “Social mobility would be harmed if the government goes ahead with these plans which do nothing but punish pupils from the poorest communities.”

The new formula follows lobbying by affluent areas seeking equal hand-outs which would give them an extra £218m — at the expense of poorer districts.

Tower Hamlets is getting children up to scratch in reading, writing and arithmetic, according to last summer’s National Curriculum tests for 11-year-olds, because it is being given the resources it needs.

Children at playtime in Spitalfields Christchurch PrimaryChildren at playtime in Spitalfields Christchurch Primary

“We’ve always known we have some of the best schools in the country,” the mayor added. “Now it’s official.”

Funding changes would undermine youngsters educating their way out of poverty, he argues.

No school in a deprived area should be worse off as a result of the formula, the mayors’ open letter to Downing Street insists, if injustice is to be tackled in a modern Britain.

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Local authority leaders signing the letter to Downing Street:

John Biggs, Mayor, London borough of Tower Hamlets

Philip Glanville, Mayor, London borough of Hackney

Robin Wales, Mayor, London borough of Newham

Darren Rodwell, Leader, London borough of Barking & Dagenham

Chris Robbins, London borough of Waltham Forest

Denise Hyland, Leader, London borough of Greenwich

Lib Peck, Leader, London borough of Lambeth

Steve Bullock, Mayor, London borough of Lewisham

Peter John, Leader, London borough of Southwark

Richard Watts, Leader, London borough of Islington

Sarah Hayward, Leader, London borough of Camden

Elin Weston, Cabinet member for children and families, London borough of Haringey

Doug Taylor, Leader, London borough of Enfield

Stephen Cowan, Leader, London borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

Steve Curran, Leader, London borough of Hounslow

Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader, Bradford council

John Clancy, Leader, Birmingham city council

George Duggins, Leader, Coventry city council

David Sheard, Leader, Kirklees council

Joe Anderson, Mayor, Liverpool city council

Hazel Simmons, Leader, Luton council

Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester city council

Jon Collins, Leader, Nottingham city council

Chris Read, Leader, Rotherham council

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