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School Funding

Volume 624: debated on Tuesday 18 April 2017

3. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education to ensure the protection of money following each child under the proposed new schools funding formula. (909618)

The Government are protecting the total core schools budget in real terms. That is possible only through careful management of the economy. As a result, school funding is at its highest ever level, at almost £41 billion in 2017-18. Spending will increase to £42 billion in 2019-20 as pupils numbers rise. We are also delivering our manifesto commitment to implement fairer schools funding. The recent national funding formula consultation includes generous transitional protections for schools that would see a reduction in their funding. The Government are carefully considering replies to the consultation and will respond in the summer.

The 2015 Conservative manifesto promised that

“the amount of money following your child into school will be protected”.

However, the National Audit Office found that schools face a real-terms cut of 8% per pupil by 2019-20, even before the cuts the new national funding formula will bring to more than 9,000 schools in England. Will the Government therefore confirm that the Tory manifesto pledge on per pupil funding is now in tatters?

Not at all. We are protecting the total schools budget in real terms and implementing our manifesto commitment to introduce fairer funding. It is right that we do so.

The Government are clearly not protecting pupil per capita funding in York, which is currently the seventh-worst funded local authority and will experience a £288 per child cut in funding. How is that protecting the formula?

I would expect the hon. Lady to share my view that it is not right that we fund schools on the basis of what has happened historically. Every pupil in England should be assessed on the same basis. It cannot be right, for example, that pupils in Hackney receive 50% more than pupils in Barnsley. That does not seem to me to be fair and it is right that the Government address that.