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Education Funding: England

Volume 659: debated on Monday 29 April 2019

While this country is a relatively high spender on state education by comparison with other similar countries, we recognise that finances remain challenging, and we will continue to listen to professionals in the run-up to the spending review.

Like many other schools in my constituency, Fishburn Primary School is facing severe funding difficulties, to the extent that parents are holding a fundraising event to raise money for essentials. Given that a real-terms increase in funds is not coming from his Department, would the Secretary of State care to contribute a raffle prize to help to raise the money that will ensure that local children continue to receive the education that they deserve?

It is, of course, exceptionally important for schools to be properly resourced. In the Darlington local authority area, where the typical primary class size is 27, the average funding is £104,000, while in the Durham local authority area— which the hon. Gentleman mentioned—where the class size is slightly smaller at 25, the funding is a shade higher at £105,000. Of course it is right that, through the national funding formula, we ensure that schools are properly resourced for the education that they will need to deliver.

Since 2015 schools in Tower Hamlets have lost out on some £56 million—of which £7.7 million is for children with special needs—despite having the highest child poverty rate in the country. When will the Secretary of State stand up to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, and seek the additional funding that is so much needed for our children around the country?

As my right hon. Friend the Minister for School Standards said earlier, we will of course put forward a strong case for education, on which so much else depends in both our society and our economy. The hon. Lady mentioned her constituency. That is an area of relatively high school funding per pupil, and specifically on high needs. I recognise the additional pressures on the high-needs budget, but £1.4 million of the additional money that we were able to secure for high needs will go to her constituents over two years.

Of the 33 schools in the Easington constituency, 28 have had their funding cut between 2015 and 2019, three of them by more than £600,000, including my former primary school, now called Ribbon Primary School. Are we to take it that the Government’s plan is to transfer resources from hard-pressed areas in the north-east to more affluent areas in the south and south-east?

Funding has been allocated on a per-pupil basis for a large number of years now, including through the period 1997 to 2010, so a decrease in pupil numbers has an effect on funding, but through the national funding formula over two years we are allocating at least a 1% increase in respect of every child in the country, and for historically underfunded areas, up to 6%.

Amounts per pupil are being top-sliced to meet a deficit in the high-needs block, so the amount actually going into the school accounts per pupil is not nearly as impressive, is it?

There is pressure on high-needs budgets. Actually, the high-needs budget has gone up from £5 billion to £6 billion over the last few years, but there are still those pressures, as my right hon. Friend rightly says. That is why it was so important to secure the additional £250 million that we announced at the end of last year.

I obviously welcome the fact that 15,200 children are now in good and outstanding schools in Somerset, as compared to 2010, but—urgently—teachers are coming to me increasingly about the funding pressures they are under, because they have more and more on their shoulders. I have just had seven schools in the Tone Valley Partnership and a raft of schools with the Redstart Trust coming to me to highlight their funding pressures, so please will the Secretary of State meet me again to understand what they are facing and to discuss it?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the strong performance of schools in her area and the improvement in Ofsted judgments. It is also true, of course, that over the two years Somerset schools have benefited from a 5.9% increase in per-pupil funding, but I will of course be more than happy to meet her again to talk about the high-needs pressures and others that she mentioned.

20. When it comes to neurodiversity, some children in York are waiting two years for their diagnosis. The special educational needs and disabilities budget is overspent by £1.3 million and school cuts have been exacerbated, leaving parents and teachers seriously under-resourced to support their child, psychologically, socially and educationally, so how will the Secretary of State use the comprehensive spending review to ensure that all schools are fully funded to meet the needs of those children? (910575)

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to highlight this exceptionally important issue, and it is vital that we have the right education and the right support for every child, whatever their unique personal make-up. As I say, there have been pressures on the high-needs budget, which I totally recognise. There have been multiple reasons for that, as schools up and down the country identify. I will be happy to meet her to discuss the specific issues that she mentioned and how best we can address them.

The hon. Member for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock) is also a successful marathon runner who deserves the approbation of the House.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your kind words. May I take this opportunity to thank everyone across Barnsley for supporting me yesterday?

When the Government announced their new institutes of technology earlier this month, there was not a single one in South Yorkshire or West Yorkshire, and just two across the whole of the north. Will the Secretary of State review that decision and support new applicants from those areas?

The creation of institutes of technology is a very exciting development, and there will be more to come. This is a great opportunity to improve the provision of higher technical education throughout the country; as time goes on, I anticipate that there will be more of them.

I join Mr Speaker in congratulating the hon. Lady and my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Tom Pursglove) on their great efforts in the marathon.