School Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:44 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of James Berry James Berry Conservative, Kingston and Surbiton 5:44 pm, 25th January 2017

No, I will not.

Headteachers make the legitimate point that the increased costs of the national living wage, and national insurance and pension contributions, are putting pressure on their budgets. The situation is the same in other areas of the public sector, but we should not forget that point in this debate.

Finally, high-needs funding, not the national funding formula, is the biggest issue in my constituency. Such funding has resulted in an overspend on the dedicated schools grant of some £5 million, which will have to be found from school budgets as a whole. The council and free school providers have put in two applications for new special schools in the borough—one in Kingston and one in Richmond—which will reduce pressure in the medium term, but there is no clear answer to where that £5 million will come from in the short term, apart from every single child’s school funding. I am pleased that the Minister was able to meet the council leader and me a few weeks ago to discuss that.

All the points that I have made must be taken into account in addition to the funding formula. I am pleased that Kingston schools will receive a small increase. We could have been bolder and made bigger reductions elsewhere to make the situation even fairer to pupils in my constituency, but there must be fairness across the board, as my constituents recognise. I will be submitting a response to phase 2 of the consultation, just as I did previously, and it will be informed by my constituency’s headteachers—the best headteachers in the land.