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Keen to keep up with the neighbours

Ben Russell reports on a plea for radical reform of an 'unfair' funding system from the new Local Government Association.

Schools in Gloucestershire have been campaigning for fairer funding for the best part of a decade, writes Ben Russell.

Headteachers spent the years of Conservative rule looking over the border into rural Oxfordshire, envying their neighbour's extra funding. Oxfordshire schools received extra money as a result of the disputed "area cost adjustment", the mechanism by which authorities near London are compensated for higher costs.

Now Gloucestershire's heads are hoping for help from the Government and the county's crop of three new Labour MPs.

Heads estimate that a 1,000-pupil school in Oxfordshire is Pounds 117, 000 better off every year than its Gloucestershire counterpart. Jean Lord, head of Stroud High School and chairman of the Gloucestershire Association of Secondary Heads, said: "Everybody is very hopeful that something may be done.

"Oxfordshire only has to pay the same salaries as we do and therefore its schools are getting a better deal than ours. We feel poor relations.

"We have had a budget cut in six years out of the past seven. Everybody mistrusts the system, and we have become very wary of discussions between the county council and MPs blaming each other."

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