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Dedicated Schools Grant

Volume 491: debated on Monday 27 April 2009

1. How much dedicated schools grant has been allocated to schools in (a) East Devon, (b) Devon and (c) England for 2009-10. (270732)

The Government allocate funding to local authorities, not by constituency, so we do not hold figures separately for East Devon. The guaranteed unit of funding per pupil for Devon is £3,843. The amount of dedicated schools grant that Devon receives is dependent on the number of pupils on roll. Devon will receive around £359 million for 2009-10. The indicative total of dedicated schools grant for England for 2009-10 is £29.8 billion.

I am most grateful to the Minister for that answer. He came down to Devon recently and gave an interview to my local paper in which he admitted that Devon is still slightly below the average for funding. The reality is that if the average amount allocated to schools according to the Government’s funding criteria were met in Devon, Sidmouth college would be £300,000 better off in 2009 and Exmouth community college—the biggest secondary school in Europe, with 2,500 pupils—would be better off by £900,000. Does the Minister not agree that education in Devon is just as important as education in Birmingham? I have always considered him a fair man; will he therefore undertake today to end that discrimination against Devon’s schoolchildren?

I am looking forward to meeting the hon. Gentleman next month to discuss those issues and the dedicated schools grant review that we are undertaking. The truth is that Devon receives well over £1,000 per pupil more than it did in 1997, as part of the 75 per cent. real-terms increase in schools funding. We are committed to protecting school budgets, as we review the dedicated schools grant. I note that the hon. Gentleman is also meeting the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) to discuss those matters, but I am not sure that he can make the same commitment.

We on the Conservative Benches support the Government’s approach to education. We are totally committed to it—we want more education, we want more jobs; we want all these things—but could the Minister please explain to the House why South Devon college, which is a showpiece in the south-west, has had its funding cut for this year and why Dartmouth college is falling to bits? The people there are ready to rebuild it, but they cannot get the funds.

The hon. Gentleman has come to see me to talk about Dartmouth college. We have discussed how we might be able to take things forward, as we roll out our Building Schools for the Future programme, which is a Government commitment to refurbishing or replacing every single secondary school over 15 years. I know that South Devon college does a fantastic job and I am keen to see it develop as an outstanding provider of education in Devon. However, if there are issues that I need to look at with the Learning and Skills Council, I shall be happy to do so.