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Education Funding

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make it his policy to bring funding per pupil in Worcestershire closer to the national average. [112661]

In introducing the new funding system in 2003–04, our aim has been to produce the best possible match between the distribution of funds and the differing circumstances and needs of pupils, schools and Local Education Authorities. It is our policy to ensure that the funding each authority receives reflects the needs of its pupils, and the cost of providing an education service.The new funding system comprises of a basic entitlement per pupil—the same everywhere, and a top ups for each pupil with additional educational needs—again the same everywhere. There are also top ups to reflect the higher costs of recruiting and retaining staff in some areas, and the higher costs of providing an education service in sparse areas. The top up for additional educational needs was informed by research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers into the costs of providing for pupils with additional needs. The top ups for area costs are based on earning differentials from the labour force survey.These top ups mean that there are differences in what individual authorities receive. Those which have more deprived pupils and/or receive extra funding to take account of the high costs of recruiting and retaining staff in their area, receive a higher level of funding overall than those which have comparatively low levels of deprivation and/or do not receive additional funding for area costs.All LEAs have seen an increase in their Education Formula Spending Share of at least 3.2 per cent. per pupil in 2003–04, in addition to compensation for the bulk of the pension contribution increase and the transfer into EPS of nursery grant and class size grant. The increase for Worcestershire is somewhat more substantial at 4.1 per cent. This translates into an increase in Worcestershire's Education Formula Spending Share of 6.0 per cent. when pupil number changes are taken into account.