Let me start by welcoming the Budget and congratulating the Secretary of State on her speech. I am delighted that she has managed to secure protection for the schools budget, which will continue to grow in real terms, and I congratulate the Chief Secretary on facilitating that. I also welcome the national funding formula, which the Secretary of State for Education has been working on with a forensic attention to detail. It will ensure that funding follows need, rather than an accident of postcode. Croydon, the borough I represent, has historically been underfunded. We will now see that injustice corrected, so I congratulate the Secretary of State on her work and welcome the national funding formula.
The shadow Secretary of State for Education gave us a blizzard of statistics. I wanted to intervene on her to say that the most important statistic on education is this: 1.8 million more children are being educated in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. The hon. Lady can quote all the sums she likes, but the fact remains that the Government are delivering a better education for more children than ever before. Conservative Members are proud of our Government, and our free school and academy programme, and I am delighted that the Government are expanding it.
I was pleased that the Chief Secretary, the Chancellor and the Education Secretary found an additional £1.035 billion over the next five years—up until 2021-22—to fund further new schools. New schools give choice to parents and, as the statistics I quoted show, they encourage higher standards. Some of those schools might well be new grammar schools, which the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne criticised. I should declare to the House that I am a grammar school boy. I know from my experience in a south London grammar school that such schools help children from ordinary backgrounds to fulfil their potential. All the studies show that children from ordinary backgrounds who go to grammar schools do a great deal better than those who go to other schools.