FUNDING for schools has been a key issue of discussion in the run up to the General Election.

Proposed plans under a Conservative government could see schools across the country lose out on thousands to their budgets, according to the website, which says 93 per cent of schools will see per-pupil funding cut by 2022.

The average per primary school is -£86,951, with £338 lost per primary pupil, and secondary schools will see an average cut of £370,298, with the average loss per pupil standing at £436.

In Somerset, predicted figures from the school cuts website states that Somerset County Council would see a £16,846,897 reduction in the school budget, translating to £263 lost per pupil and a loss of 452 teachers under the Conservatives.

Somerset County Gazette:

Screen grab from the School Cuts website.

But what do the candidates standing to be the Taunton Deane Member of Parliament think about the current situation with our schools?

Conservative candidate Rebecca Pow says funding will not be lost, and that she spearheaded a campaign to bring about fairer funding in schools.

Somerset County Gazette:

She said: “Since my election in 2015, I have worked hard to stand up for schools in Taunton Deane, regularly meeting with headteachers and pupils alike and raised their issues directly with Ministers and the Secretary of State.

“In 2015, I spearheaded a constituency wide campaign to achieve fairer funding for Somerset school children. As a direct result of this, pupils in Taunton Deane will now see an increase of 4.3 per cent per pupil, one of the biggest rises in the country.

“In the Conservative manifesto, the Government has promised to increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022, a real-terms rise for every year of the parliament and bringing education funding to historically high levels.

“The Conservative plan on education is working, there are now 1.8million more pupils being taught in good or outstanding schools since 2010 and schools have more freedoms to head teachers can do what is right for their pupils. This cannot be put at risk by letting Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10, propped up by the Liberal Democrats and SNP. They can promise the earth in more funding but they have no coherent plan as to how to raise this.

“Only Theresa May can get us the right Brexit deal that will keep our economy on track and it is only with a buoyant economy that we can continue to invest in our education system. As a school governor for 10 years and with three children locally, I fully understand the pressures facing our hard working teaching staff and rest assured - if elected, I will continue to fight for the very best education for all our children.”

Labour candidate Martin Jevon agrees with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who says schools will be put at risk if the public votes to continue under a Conservative government.

He said: “The Tories just don’t get it. When schools are already underfunded, class sizes rising, and teachers are fighting hard to provide a decent education to our children, they want to continue with reducing funding to our struggling schools.

“The national picture for education under the Conservatives is grim, as the figures on the schoolcuts website show.

“Harsh Tory cuts are starving schools of the funding they need to deliver decent education, driving up class sizes and forcing schools to cut corners. Labour has pledged it will not waste money on inefficient free schools and the Conservatives’ grammar schools vanity project, and also oppose any attempt to force schools to become academies.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Gideon Amos says that his party is the only one pledging to reverse the cuts.

He said: “Children in Somerset are being taught in overcrowded classes by overworked teachers - but Theresa May doesn’t care. Under the Conservatives, funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation. The Lib Dems will reverse the Tory funding cuts and remove the cap on teacher’s pay.”

“If elected, I will also press the County Council to provide funding to replace temporary classrooms, and for new school buildings to be funded by developers where large numbers of new houses are built.

“The Tories’ cuts are devastating for our local schools and communities – the figures are absolutely shocking. Parents and children deserve so much better. No school should have to contemplate cuts to teaching staff or teaching assistants and every school should have the investment and resources they need to provide a fantastic learning environment for every child, especially those with learning difficulties and/or additional needs.

“Every single child in Taunton Deane deserves the best possible chances in life and our dedicated teachers and teaching assistants deserve proper security – that won’t happen if a Tory Government continues to starve our schools of funds.

“We have pledged to invest £7bn more in schools and colleges over the next Parliament – that would mean an extra £54 million for Somerset.

“And I pledge to continue fighting on this issue whatever the outcome of the June 8 election.”

Clive Martin, the Taunton Deane Green Party candidate, said: “The Green Party is resolutely opposed to these cuts. We would properly fund our schools so real terms spending per pupil, not just absolute spending, increases and is protected.

“We would return all academies and free schools to local authority control and scrap SATs, which narrow the curriculum and place unnecessary pressure on pupils and teachers.

“We would reduce class sizes, with a long-term goal of 20 pupils per class at both primary and secondary level. We would provide free universal early years education, with compulsory education beginning at age seven. We are committed to a fully comprehensive school system and are opposed to selection by ability or social class. We can fund our policies by taxing the very richest individuals and corporations, which currently are not paying their share.

“My own children attend Bishops Lydeard Primary School, Kingsmead, and Richard Huish. They have received and benefitted from comprehensive state education.

“As a governor of the primary school for 10 years, six of them as chairman of governors, I have personally worked to ensure the success of such provision.”

Alan Dimmick, the UKIP candidate, said: “All schools should be fully funded, extra cost to schools budgets due to Government policies should be scraped such as apprenticeship levy on school wages and the extra cost due to the rise in insurance tax premium.

“Accountability should also increase over excessive pay awards to some head teachers. All teachers deserve a decent wage, but with some teachers being paid £110,000 per year, in Somerset, sustainability question arises.

“The amount of money spent on consultants should also be questioned. Are schools getting value for money?

“With 14 more schools required in Somerset within the next five years, the question of education budgets will increase with the large numbers of children entering into the education system.

“The Labour manifesto says “immigration placed a strain on public services” education being one such service.

“The Conservative manifesto says they will reduce immigration to a sustainable level.

“Until the main parties tackle the ‘root cause’ of the problem, funding for our schools, will remain under pressure.

“All state schools should be fully funded to ensure first class education for all children living in Somerset.”