The Observer has asked readers what questions they would put to general election candidates ahead of the vote on June 8.
A recurring theme as a result was education so we put them to Nick Gibb, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.
Readers asked: What would you do to support our hard pressed schools and teachers?
And – would you step up to match Labour’s promise to reverse cuts?
This is Nick Gibb’s reply in full: “The Government is spending nearly £41 billion this year funding schools, the highest amount on record. This is set to rise further still as pupil numbers increase and, as announced in the Conservative Manifesto, school funding will rise by a further £4 billion to £45 billion by 2021/22.
“West Sussex has, historically, been one of the lowest funded local authorities in the country because of the unfair and outdated method of allocating funds to local authorities and to schools. As a result of our proposals to introduce a new fairer national funding formula, West Sussex will receive 3.5% more funding than it currently does. On the basis of last year’s figures that amounts to a rise from £414 million to £428 million, some £14 million more.
“Schools in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton will receive a cash boost of some £1.5 million. 8 out of ten schools in this constituency will see a rise in funding as a result of the new formula. No school will see a cut in funding.
“Once the new National Funding Formula is fully implemented, the Regis School would receive an extra 7.5 per cent in funding; Felpham Community College would receive an extra 5.3%. Primary schools such as Bishop Tufnell in Felpham would see an extra 6.7 per cent in its funding; Yapton Church of England Primary School an additional 1.3 per cent; Nyewood Church of England Junior School an extra 4 per cent; and Downview Primary School an extra three per cent.
“The Government recognise that schools - like many organisations - will still face cost pressures, equivalent to around eight per cent on a per pupil basis between 2015 and 2020. As in other public services, these pressures will include salary increases, the introduction of the National Living Wage, increases to employers’ National Insurance and Teachers’ Pension Scheme contributions, and general inflation.
“That’s why we have announced in the manifesto additional money to fund our schools. But you can only invest in our schools with a strong economy. Every vote for the Conservatives in this election will help secure the strong and stable leadership we need to protect the growing economy our schools need.
“Over the last seven years Conservative reforms to the education system have resulted in huge improvements in our schools, with 1.8 million more pupils in schools rated as good or outstanding than in 2010. Pupil behaviour has improved as has the teaching of reading and maths in our primary schools.”
Mr Gibb’s reply came after the print deadline for this week’s Observer and Gazette, out today, which feature profiles for all candidates.