Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 16:18 UK

Fight for 'fairer' school funding

Teacher and pupils
New technologies support learning, but come at a price, a professor says

School teachers, parents and governors are campaigning for "fairer" funding for schools in Devon.

The county is one of the worst funded education authorities in England, ranking 148 out of 151 councils.

In practical terms, funding for every pupil in Devon is £3,842 - £375 less than the national average of £4,217.

The schools minister said funding levels reflected relative disadvantage in each area and Devon had fewer pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

But Dr Elizabeth Wood, a professor of education at the University of Exeter, said funding was a serious issue.

'Hands up'

She said it was vital to get education right at a very early age so young children could develop.

"Twenty-first Century children need 21st Century resources," Dr Wood told BBC News.

"They need to learn with new technologies and new media technologies and they come at a price.

"But we also know they really support children's learning."

Schools from across Devon have joined forces and will launch the Hands Up for Fairer School Funding at a school in Exeter later.

John Hart, Devon County Council leader, said the government had let the county's children down by inadequate funding.

Despite that, he said the county's schools were in the top third for exam results which showed teachers were doing "an excellent job with limited resources".

But Mr Hart added that teachers could not continue "making do" for ever.

'Unprecedented increases'

The Devon Association of Secondary Heads has already warned a funding deficit could threaten up to 400 jobs.

However, Schools Minister Vernon Coaker insisted education was a government priority and there had been "unprecedented" increases in funding since 1997.

In a statement, Mr Coaker said funding in Devon had increased by £1,070 per pupil (34%) in real terms between 1997 and 2005 and by 2010 funding per pupil in Devon would be £4,005 - up £454 on 2007/08.

"It is the case that not all authorities receive the same amount per pupil but it is right to invest resources where they are most needed," he said.

The minister said there would be a consultation process in 2010 for a new funding formula and Devon's input would be welcome.

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