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Schools: Shropshire

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will increase funding for schools in Shropshire to the national average. (159164)

Education is a top priority for the Government and has been backed with substantial increases in school funding, from which all local authority areas have benefited. Between 1997-98 and 2005-06, total revenue funding for pupils aged three to 19 in Shropshire went up by £1,090 per pupil in real terms, an increase of 38 per cent.

The Government must ensure an equitable distribution between authorities of the total available nationally for schools each year; this means that the funding each area receives reflects the needs of that area. Some areas, particularly inner city areas, receive additional funding because it costs more to recruit and retain teachers and other members of staff in these areas. Others receive additional funding as they are sparsely populated, with many small, rural primary schools that are more expensive to run.

The main reason for differences in funding levels is the emphasis placed on targeting funding to disadvantaged pupils who are likely to need extra support if they are to have an equal chance to succeed. This year 7.2 per cent. of Shropshire’s funding is for additional educational needs including deprivation compared with 12.0 per cent. nationally. That is reflected in the level of school funding the authority receives.

The school funding settlement for 2006-08 gave Shropshire an increase in its DSG of 6.6 per cent. per pupil in 2006-07 (compared with its spending in 2005-06) and a further increase of 6.4 per cent. per pupil in 2007-08. This gave Shropshire guaranteed funding per pupil of £3,339 in 2006-07 and £3,551 this year.

Schools themselves were guaranteed minimum increases in their per pupil funding for both years. The guarantee for 2006-07 was an increase of 4 per cent. per pupil for nursery and primary schools (recognising the full year cost of implementing workforce reform in these schools), and 3.4 per cent. for secondary and special schools. For 2007-08, the guaranteed minimum increase is 3.7 per cent. per pupil for all schools.

The school funding settlement for 2006-08 gives schools in all areas of the country the secure and predictable base they need to deliver a wider and more personalised offer to all their pupils.