A long-serving Conservative MP is facing calls to apologise to his constituents after a Government error saw millions wiped from school budgets nationwide.

Officials from the Department for Education (DoE) were forced to apologise last month after the number of pupils was "underestimated". It meant a planned 2.7% increase per pupil for the next academic year was revised down to just 1.9%.

In Northumberland, the impact on some rural schools has been particularly hard. Kielder First School is facing a loss of £278 per pupil under the new figures according to Labour's analysis, while Otterburn Primary School will lose £79 per pupil.

Labour's candidate for the Hexham Constituency, Joe Morris, called on incumbent MP Guy Opperman to apologise for his Government's failings.

He said: "This is a serious failure by the Conservative Government, in which our current MP, Guy Opperman happily sits as a minister, that will negatively impact children and families across the constituency. He should apologise. The next General Election will offer people in our constituency a choice between a century of Conservative complacency or a fresh start, by electing our first Labour MP.

"We need a Labour MP who will fight for communities across the Hexham constituency - from Kielder and Otterburn, to Corbridge and Haltwhistle as well as Hexham and Prudhoe."

Labour's candidate for the Hexham constituency, Joe Morris
Labour's candidate for the Hexham constituency, Joe Morris

Responding to Mr Morris's concerns, Mr Opperman - who has served as the area's MP since 2010 - defended the Conservative's record on education. He acknowledged that there was "more to do" - but chose not to apologise for the DofE's error.

He said: "School funding is going up next year in Northumberland, just by not quite as much as initially thought. School funding and per pupil funding in Northumberland are at record levels.

"There is more to do, but massive progress so far. The Department for Education has apologised for this technical error.

"Since 2010, we have rebuilt Queen Elizabeth High School, Ponteland High School and Prudhoe Community High School and refurbished Haydon Bridge High School, Haltwhistle Academy, Ovingham First School and many more schools that were ignored under Labour."

It should be noted that Prudhoe High School's rebuild was completed in 2016, under a Labour administration at Northumberland County Council. The rest of the work has been carried out since 2017 under a Conservative administration.

Furthermore, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has pointed out that school funding per pupil in 2024 is to remain three per cent below 2010 in real-term levels, when accounting for actual costs faced by schools. The Government had allocated extra funding to schools in the 2019 and 2021 spending reviews, which was intended to restore spending per pupil to 2010 levels in real terms by the end of parliament next year.

However, due to high cost pressures on schools, the IFS said the Government was "no longer on track" to deliver on this objective. Previously, spending per pupil in England fell by nine per cent in real terms between 2009/10 and 2019/20 - the "largest cut in over 40 years" according to teacher's union NASWUT.

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