Axing maintenance grants hurts the poorest – Mulholland

Commenting on today’s debate on the abolition of student maintenance grants on those coming from lower income families, Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland said:

“The poorest students will be hit hardest by the ending of maintenance grants. Trying to do this through the backdoor shows not only their contempt for students but also their families. The Liberal Democrats utterly oppose this move.

“The abolition of grants will increase graduate loan repayments of the poorest. It will also increase the likelihood that graduates will not repay in full. It is unfair and economically illiterate.

“This hurts people the Tories talk about the most; whose who strive and go to University to better themselves.”

University – Still free at the point of delivery

This 23 year old student Lance nails it on tuition fees. He makes the point the system we have now got is essentially a graduate tax as no one pays the money up front, and that you only pay back the money University costs if you start earn over £21,000. Once you earn over £21,000 you pay back 9% of all your earnings above that amount until your fee is paid off or after 30 years. This means many people will never even have to pay back everything their university education costs.

It’s for this reason that Labour’s proposals to cut tuition fees to £6,000 a year would only benefit wealthier people with a starting salary of £35,000. It’s this reason why finical expert Martin Lewis from the Money Saving website called their plan’s economically illiterate.

Why cutting student loans only benefits graduates with a starting salary of at least £35,000

By promising to cut tuition fees to £6,000 a year Ed Milliband appears to have provided a great opportunity for me to explain how the new tuition fee system is essentially a graduate tax.

That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;

The reason this scheme is essentially a graduate tax is simple, the amount you have to pay back is not the same as the amount you have to borrow. You only start paying back your fees when you are earning over £21,000 an amount at which you can afford some repayments. You then repay a 9% on any income above that repayment threshold of £21,000 for 30 years. If you never earn over £21,000 you don’t have to pay anything, University for these people is free. If however you benefit financially with a better job and earnings you pay back more. Top earners will pay back significantly more than low earners. Hence it’s a progressive scheme, that provides universities with the funding they need, and ensures those with the broadest shoulders pay the most back.

If you do as Labour propose and simply cut the amount of tuition fees then it only benefits higher earners who would have paid back all they borrowed within 30 years. Don’t just take my word for it though, the independent financial expert Martin Lewis who runs the famous Money Saving Expert website has this to say:

“The only people who would gain from it are those who would clear their entire loan for tuition fees plus any loans for living costs, plus the interest, within the 30 years. To do this you’d need to be a high earner.

“To see the exact amount, go to my student finance calculator and play about with different scenarios – watching the impact of reducing tuition fees. It shows that only those with a STARTING SALARY of at least £35,000 – and then rising by above inflation each year after – would pay less if you cut tuition fees (we have assumed the student also takes out £5,555 in maintenance loans per year).

“That’s a very high amount, mainly only City law firms, accountancy firms and investment banks pay that much as starting salaries. Is that really who Labour wants to target with this plan? Worse still, by cutting tuition fees it will reduce the bursaries that universities can give to attract poor students.”

Miliband’s policy simply doesn’t work. Even if you think more should be done to help poorer students then this is a bad way of spending £2.5Bn (which could be spent on the NHS). As is so often the case Labour have gone for an attention grabbing headline rather than a credible financial policy.


How the Pupil Premium has helped Ling Bob school



The Pupil Premium is one of the many Liberal Democrats in government. It is only because people voted Liberal Democrat, and we got MPs elected that this policy is now being implemented. It has seen over £20 million of extra funding go towards schools in Calderdale since 2010. Every parent wants their child to have the best opportunity to get on in life and make something of themselves, yet we know that children living in more disadvantaged areas don’t get the same educational opportunity. This policy is helping to tackle that inequality, but it’s not giving people handouts, it’s equipping people with the skills so that they are able to go out there and make something of their lives, for themselves.

I previously wrote about how this policy is helping children at Halifax Academy, now I wanted to let you know how it is helping children at Ling Bob. The follow in an except from a report published by the school on how they are using the Pupil Premium. The full report is linked to below.

As of October 2013, 53% of children in the school met the criteria for Pupil Premium funding. For the academic year 2013-14 the amount received for each eligible child was increased to £900. Therefore, during 2013/14 the school received approximately £140,400 in Pupil Premium funding.

In the 2013-14 academic year, existing programmes of targeted support were sustained and some were extended.
Funding was also used:

  • To employ an additional member of staff in our Pastoral Team to support children and their families coming into
    our Foundation Stage with their readiness for school.
  • To fund additional maths intervention groups for children identified as needing additional support to further
    raise attainment in Numeracy, particularly in Key Stage 2.
  • To fund our new Small Steps Nurture Group provision. This is aimed at helping Key Stage 1 children who are
    experiencing problems in school due to social, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Studies show that Nurture
    Groups are extremely effective at helping children make progress and also working with parents to help them in
    supporting their children. The Small Steps Nurture Group is based in the school and is run by specially trained
    staff. Its aim is to provide a nurturing environment where the children can spend time in a small group learning,
    playing and socialising to maximise their chances of success in later life.

Further details about how the Pupil Premium has been used in Ling Bob school can be found here 

How the Pupil Premium is Helping Children at Halifax High

The Pupil Premium is a flagship policy that the Liberal Democrats have delivered in Government. The purpose the Pupil Premium is allocate additional funding to schools based on the number of pupils they have which would be eligible for free school meals. We know that economic disadvantages children face early in life create inequality that last a lifetime. This is targeted spending to address that inequality at an early stage to ensure everyone no matter what their background gets an opportunity to make something of themselves and succeed in life.

Over the next few weeks I will be taking it in turn to look at different Schools within Warley ward so we can see how they are using this Pupil Premium. First of is

Halifax High

Halifax High


The school got an extra  £143,913 in 2013/14 and this has risen now to £382,415 for 2014/15 as the school now gets £900 extra for each student eligible. The school has published it’s own report on how the Pupil Premium has been used. Some of the highlights include

  • Deployment of attendance officer time to intervene in order to reduce persistent absence and increase in overall attendance.
  • Herd Farm Residential trip focused on Maths/English revision
  • Y9 IMPACT group established for students at risk of with  significant learning needs.  Additional SEN teacher employed.
  • Employ additional staff in the Maths faculty to enable smaller classes to be maintained
  • After school intervention programme: targeting Year11 C/D borderline students in English and/or maths or at risk of not making 3 levels progress  in English and/or maths

As you can see these are not just figures of money going to schools, they are real targeted programmes that are addressing the attainment gap, and helping to combat inequality within our society. Next week I will be looking at how the money has been used by Ling Bob Infant and Nursery School.

Addressing inequality with a £245,696 cash boost for children in Calderdale

Little girl with mom read book in bed


As a regular reader of New Scientist magazine a few issues back I was struck by an article a few issues ago that showed how the inequality arising from poverty sets in at such an early age and is then hard to reverse.  The article urged policy makers to focus on early intervention to address inequality, inequality is something that I feel strongly about. I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to get on in life. In order to do that of course people have to take some responsibility themselves, but they should also get a helping hand up to level the playing field.

The Pupil Premium has been doing just that, giving extra money to the schools that have students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This is targeted funding which is addressing the educational inequality that exists even at a young age between people from wealthy backgrounds and those from poorer backgrounds.  In Warley Ward is has been used for thing such as providing extra one to one maths lessons for Children at Halifax High. The great news is that this Pupil Premium is now being extending to cover Early Years Education.

So from April 2015 Nurseries, childminders and other early years providers in Calderdale are set for a £245,696 cash injection to help three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged families.  This Early Years Pupil Premium which has been backed by groups like Barnados, 4Children and the Child Poverty Action Group – ​will mean extra money to make sure every child gets a fair start. Here is what some of those groups said about the scheme.

The Government has dramatically improved life for England’s most disadvantaged children today by closing the yawning funding gap for poor 3 and 4 year olds, following years of campaigning by Barnardo’s.- Barnardos

An Early Years Pupil Premium from 2015/16 for disadvantaged three and four year olds is a great move and will be crucial to changing the fact that childcare is often worse quality in poorer areas. This vital injection of funds could really begin to turn round the standard of provision for the most disadvantaged children and an additional £50 million makes an important move in this direction.”- Child Poverty Action Group

Labour oppose sixth form college plan

Labour have opposed plans to create a new sixth form college for Calderdale. The plan for the college has been put together by Trinity Academy, who were bidding for governmental money to create the college as a free school. It seems sadly a combination of ideological opposition to free schools, and a successful lobbying campaign by some Head Teachers (perhaps worried their students might leave their sixth forms for a new college) encouraged Labour to pass a wrecking amendment to a Council motion seeking to back the college scheme.

Labour tried to claim we needed more work to build consensus around the future post 16 provision, but last year they stopped the work of the Post 16 working party setup to do just this. In administration on Calderdale they failed to come up with their own plan to tackle this problem, and now they refusing to back plans for this sixth form college.

I went to a sixth form college myself, and it totally opened my eyes to education after having never really got on well in the type of environment offered at a school. Sixth form college’s may not be right for all students, but I do believe that they offer more choice of subjects, and enable teachers to specialize just on teaching at a higher level.

The Council’s failure to back plans for a new sixth form will weaken Trinity Academies bid. Hopefully it will still succeed, but without Council support it runs a greater risk of being turned down. If that does happen I wonder how long students and parents will have to wait until they finally get the choice on whether their child attends a sixth form attached to a school, or a specialized sixth form college.

Cutting the cost of childcare

Nick Clegg has announced that these families will soon be able to get up to £1200 off the cost of childcare for every child – needed relief for many in these difficult times.

It will help parents make their own choices about how and when they return to work. Figures show that more than half of stay at home parents would rather work if good quality and affordable childcare was available. Many more would be able to increase the hours they work too.

That’s the kind of fairer society Liberal Democrats are fighting for in Government.


The scheme is simple. The Government will pay 20% of your childcare costs – up to an upper limit of £6000 of total costs, i.e. £1200 per child per year. Parents simply need to open an online voucher account – For every 80p they pay in, the Government will add in an extra 20p to within the limits set. 20% is the same as the basic rate of tax – so we are effectively offering tax free childcare.

To ensure we help everyone – people on low as well as higher incomes – the Lib Dems in Government also announced that many working families receiving universal credit will have 85% of their childcare costs covered in future (up from 70% in the benefits system today.)  Those who earn enough to pay tax will be eligible for this extra support so we can make sure work pays. A great boost to help parents on low incomes back into work.

Schools in Calderdale get £4 million boost from pupil premium

Schools in Calderdale are to get over £4 million boost from the pupil premium. This money is allocated to a school on the basis of the number of children that are on free school meals. Currently schools get £619 a pupil, but this is set to rise further to £900 a pupil in 2014.

The policy is just one example of how Liberal Democrats in government are helping to build a stronger economy and a fairer society. A stronger economy as it will help those from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their full potential and participate in wealth creation, and a fairer society in which background is not a barrier to achievement.

The pupil premium helps build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

The pupil premium helps build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

Within Warley ward the breakdown of extra funding in 2012/13 is as follows.

Halifax High at Wellesley Park – £234,600
Ling Bob Junior, Infant and Nursery School – £98,400
Mount Pellon Junior and Infant School – £114,000
Warley Town School – £3,600
Christ Church Pellon CofE VC Primary School – £49,200

If you want to find out how much other schools in Calderdale will be receving you can download this PDF – Calderdale_PupilPremium