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School Budgets

Volume 624: debated on Tuesday 18 April 2017

1. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on school budgets in (a) England and (b) the St Ives constituency. (909616)

The Government are protecting the core schools budget in real terms, reaching almost £41 billion this year. The Department for Education has consulted on a national funding formula to address the current postcode lottery in schools funding. The consultation lasted for 14 weeks, and received over 25,000 responses. The Government are considering the responses carefully, and will publish a response in the summer. For the St Ives constituency, the proposals would mean an increase in schools funding of 0.4%.

The majority of schools in my constituency are rated good or outstanding, due to the hard work and determination of teaching staff and their heads. However, Government funding for schools has not kept up with costs, which, according to the House of Commons Library, increased by 3.4% in 2016-17 and will increase by 8.7% by 2020. What message can I take back to my schools, which tell me they cannot maintain those standards if school funding does not keep up with these increased costs?

The Government do recognise that schools, like other organisations, face additional costs, such as salary increases. That is why the Department for Education is supporting schools to become more efficient, including with over £1 billion of savings from better procurement by 2019-20. It is also worth pointing out that, by protecting the total schools budget in real terms, as pupil numbers increase, so will the amount of money in our schools.

If the Government are protecting the budget, why is the average cut in my constituency 8%, rising in some village schools, including to 22% in Butterknowle?

As I have said, the reality is that the total core schools budget is increasing, and it can increase only if we have a strong economy that can pay for it. It is also right that we have a fairer funding formula to ensure that that money is distributed fairly.