I start by congratulating my right hon. Friend Robert Halfon and the hon. Members for Colne Valley (Thelma Walker) and for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) on securing the subject of this estimates debate.
The Government are determined to create an education system that offers opportunities to everyone, at every stage of life, and an effective funding system is a cornerstone of such an education system.
Education funding has been a key priority for this Government, which is why we have been able to maintain core school funding in real terms since 2010, at a time when we have been tackling the historically high budget deficit we inherited from the Labour party. It is only through such a balanced approach to fiscal policy that we have been able to secure a strong economy that provides opportunities for young people, with the highest level of employment and the lowest level of unemployment since the 1970s.