Schools in Oxfordshire are set to lose £2million in funding for the most disadvantaged pupils in the county following the government's decision to alter the method of calculating pupil premium funding.
The pupil premium, which aims to close the attainment gap by providing extra money to pupils eligible for free school meals, was a flagship reform introduced by the Liberal Democrats in government in 2011.
Freedom of information requests by Schools Week suggest that schools in Oxfordshire are set to lose £2million following the decision to base the funding on a school's pupil numbers in October rather than January as previously calculated.
Layla Moran, a former teacher, and MP for Oxford West & Abingdon, said:
"It shows the priorities of the Conservatives that at a time where the attainment gap is widening and children from disadvantaged backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, that they would seek to cut Oxfordshire's pupil premium.
"Liberal Democrats introduced the pupil premium and have had to fight the Tories to keep it properly funded. Given the financial pressure that families are under, this change has real potential to cause harm and will have a direct impact on the quality of education schools can provide for those who are in desperate need of more, not less, support."
James Cox, Liberal Democrat candidate for University Parks and local teacher, added:
"This is a bad move at the worst possible time. Schools have already been forced to adapt at short notice to ensure we continue to provide the best possible learning environment for our kids. We have done our best with the resources we have to ensure pupil premium students get the best support we can give them. Hampering our ability to do that with this cut is infuriating and isn't fair on the children who need extra support.
"Listen to teachers, listen to schools about the reality on the ground. If Conservatives continue to lead Oxfordshire after the election, nothing will change. We need Liberal Democrats who will put education first."