SECURING a PMQ (through the ballot) provides a chance to raise an issue of importance gaining attention and publicity.

I took the opportunity in my PMQ last week to raise an issue that I believe needs further attention, namely the historic injustice of school funding in Somerset.

Let’s get across the positive news first: more money than ever before is going into our schools nationally thanks to the sound handling of the economy and I was able, with others to help secure £243 more per pupil in Somerset for 2019/2020 (an increase of 5.9% compared to the national average of 3%).

And it is pleasing that 15,200 more children in the county are in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.

However, having met with a wide range of school heads across Taunton Deane including schools in the Tone Valley partnership and the Red Start Trust it is clear that many are under increasing pressure to deliver the myriad of demands put upon them.

And more to the point, secondary schools in Somerset receive the fifth lowest amount per pupil (they are 146th out of 150 areas) and are in the bottom third for funding for primary schools.

A more just allocation of funding would make a real difference to our schools especially those with the added challenges of delivering in rural areas.

As well as highlighting this to the PM, I have raised this with Secretary of State for Education Damien Hinds (and am continuing discussions with his department); and with Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss. I’m collating further information from schools in Taunton Deane so please feed in any views.

In other news, I’m delighted work has begun on the Taunton Rail station upgrade. Delivering this is one of my commitments as the MP and I’ve been working on this with all the stakeholders (GWR, Network Rail, the local council) since 2015 so it’s wonderful to see it finally getting underway.

Ideas from my round tables and my local survey have been fed in with some being adopted to fit in with the garden town ethos.

Some disruption will inevitably be caused as the multi-storey car park progresses, so please bear with the project team.


MP for Taunton Deane