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School Funding

Volume 628: debated on Monday 11 September 2017

1. What steps the Government are taking to increase core schools funding and introduce a fairer funding formula. (900739)

Core funding for schools with high needs will rise by an additional £1.3 billion across 2018-19 and 2019-20, in addition to previous spending plans. We will implement new funding formulas from April 2018, meaning that funding will finally be allocated on a fair and transparent basis. Together, these reforms will give schools a firm foundation that will enable them to continue to raise standards, promote social mobility, and give every child the best possible education.

My right hon. Friend recently met Shropshire teachers to learn of some of the financial constraints they are under. The new funding formula will go some way to addressing the huge disparity in funding that Shropshire schools get in comparison with inner-city areas, but can she give me an assurance that no school in Shropshire will see its budget cut as a result of this new funding formula?

I can. The £1.3 billion we are investing in schools will ensure that the formula provides a cash increase of at least 1% per pupil by 2019-20 for every single school, including in my hon. Friend’s constituency, with gains of up to 3% per pupil per year for the most underfunded schools that need to catch up. For the time being, local authorities will still be responsible for finalising the distribution of funding to individual schools in their area, in consultation with those schools, but the money will be provided for all schools to gain from the new national funding formula.

In Liverpool and other cities, there is a real concern that the new formula could mean that schools lose out. Can the Secretary of State reassure the House that issues such as deprivation, prior attainment and mobility will be significant factors in any new formula?

I recognise the points that the hon. Gentleman makes. I was committed to making sure that we protected the funding for children with additional needs under this formula, and that is what I hope we will be able to do. It is, indeed, particularly important for communities such as his own.

I very much welcomed the Secretary of State’s announcement before the recess of the £4,800 floor for secondary pupils. When might we expect the announcement in respect of primary school funding?

The final part of the process is to set out the Government’s response to the second stage of the consultation. We will do that very shortly. It will include a number of further final steps in relation to the formula, including for primary schools. I will set that out at the time.

14. Thank you, Mr Speaker. In Oxford West and Abingdon, many schools are struggling to meet the needs of pupil premium students in particular. The funding formula has historically been especially low in my constituency. What will the Secretary of State do to address this issue? (900752)

We are bringing forward the funding formula because there is a long-standing inequity in our schools funding that many Governments have dodged tackling. We cannot expect all schools to achieve the same high standards when so many of them are funded on a very different basis from one another. I believe that we are doing the right thing in bringing forward this fair funding formula. I will set out the final terms of that formula shortly. I am very proud that we have finally been able to take this step. I thank the many Members of this House who have given their input and feedback to the consultation.

Schools in rural areas have been underfunded for many years under the current formula. Can the Secretary of State assure me that the matter of sparsity will be given due consideration in the revised formula and that schools in places like Cornwall will start to close the gap on the national average?

Sparsity was part of the consultation on the funding formula. It is important that we make sure that rural schools, which often face unique challenges, are protected through the formula, and that is what I am seeking to do.

The Secretary of State should be coming to the Dispatch Box first and foremost today to apologise for the collapse of the multi-academy trust in the city of Wakefield. Part of the problem is that schools are waking up to the fact that they have lost £2.8 billion since 2015. Despite another funding consultation, will she confirm or deny the figures from the National Audit Office and, while she is on her feet, apologise to the people of Wakefield?

Schools will do better out of the funding formula than they would have done had the Labour party won the last election. The Labour party only guaranteed a cash freeze, but we are going beyond that. Schools will do better under this Government than they would have done under a disastrous Corbyn Government. We are proud of the raising of standards in schools during our term in office. Nine out of 10 schools are good or outstanding, and that is something that we should be talking up, not talking down.