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Education Funding

Volume 554: debated on Monday 3 December 2012

The current system for funding schools is unfair and out of date. In March, the Secretary of State announced our intention to introduce a new national funding formula which would redistribute funding on a fair, transparent and pupil-led basis.

The current formula, which we inherited, contains in-built bias and anomalies. Given that the Secretary of State and several Ministers are on record as saying that it needs to be replaced, why must we wait until 2015 before that process even starts?

My hon. Friend is right to chide by implication the previous Government for failing during a far more benign financial environment to tackle the unfairness of the national formula for funding schools. I can reassure my hon. Friend that the Government are taking action. We are already, in 2013-14 and 2014-15, simplifying massively the funding formula for schools, paving the way for the national funding formula, which we will introduce in the next spending review period.

On a slightly different aspect of the education funding formula, Liverpool Community college has seen an extra 1,000 16 to 18-year-olds enrol this year. However, due to the current funding formula there is a gap of £6 million. Can the Government confirm that none of those young people will lose out and that they will all get the same high standard of education that they deserve?

I am not sure what that gap is, but even in difficult times this Government have produced a fantastic settlement for schools and are doing what her Government never did: deliver a £2.5 billion pupil premium which will get more money to the most disadvantaged youngsters in the country.

The Minister accepts that there are gross funding discrepancies among schools, not on the basis of need but simply because of the local authority in which a school sits. Will the Minister and the Secretary of State consider the f40 group’s appeal again and look to take action in this Parliament? Such gross unfairness cannot be allowed to last into the next Parliament.

I agree with my hon. Friend’s points. I met representatives of the f40 group recently and had a detailed discussion. As I have already explained, we are making the first moves to introduce a national funding formula in the next spending review period. I assure my hon. Friend that in the meantime I will keep a close eye—as will the Secretary of State—on the representations that the f40 group is making about how we get a fairer funding formula.