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School Funding Formula (London)

Volume 612: debated on Monday 4 July 2016

10. What plans she has to ensure that reform of the school funding formula does not have a negative effect on schools in London. (905618)

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue and for contributing to the recent debate on education funding in London. The second stage of our consultation will detail the impact of the formula on schools. I understand the importance of giving schools stability and budget security, but in advance of that consultation it would not be appropriate to speculate on the specific impact of the formula. That would be unfair to schools and parents.

As a long-term governor, and having visited the outstanding Bevington school in Kensington this morning, can I ask the Minister to talk about the area school cost adjustment in respect of meeting the higher costs and vulnerability of schools in London?

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. That is why in the first stage of the consultation we propose to include an area cost adjustment in the national funding formula—an increase for schools facing extra costs from higher wages, which will be important for London schools. We have also protected the pupil premium at current pupil rates, so every school knows that they will receive that funding on top of their core budget. London receives over 20% of the whole pupil premium budget.

Educational standards improved dramatically in London under the previous Labour Government, a timely reminder of the virtue of Labour winning elections. In the Minister’s attempt rightly to increase funding to levels needed across the rest of the country, will he confirm that school budgets in London will not suffer, thereby setting back the enormous progress that has been made?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: educational standards and attainment have improved dramatically, in London in particular, over the past decade or so thanks to teachers, parents and pupils in London. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made very clear, the purpose of the funding formula reforms is to fund need, so where there is need in London it will be funded on the same basis as need in other parts of the country.

Is the Minister aware that schools in my constituency in west London are already having to implement the biggest cuts to their budgets they have ever made? Will he assure the head teachers I met this morning that there will be no further cuts when fair funding comes in?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it very clear: the core education budget of £40 billion is the highest amount ever invested in education. We are supporting our schools to achieve educational excellence everywhere. We are reforming the funding formula to ensure that that excellence can be delivered across all schools, rather than it being determined by a postcode lottery, as it is at the moment.