It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans. I congratulate Ms Eagle on securing the debate and on her excellent speech.
I am delighted to be able to address this issue at a time when the Government have recently announced the outcome of our consultation on the national funding formula—an historic and necessary reform that will, for the first time, distribute funding on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country. This Government believe that all children should have an education that unlocks their potential and allows them to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them.
We are making significant progress. More schools than ever before are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, and 1.8 million more children are in good or outstanding schools today compared with 2010, including 90% of schools in the Wirral. The attainment gap between poorer children and their wealthier peers is closing; it has not closed totally. We have launched 12 opportunity areas to drive improvements in parts of the country that we know need to and can do better.
Those improvements have been made against a backdrop of an unfair and arbitrary funding system. Similar schools across the country get markedly different levels of funding for no good reason and resources are not reaching the schools that need it most. The funding system has acted as a barrier to improvement, when we need it to be a support. That is why we are delivering on our promise to reform the unfair, opaque and outdated school and high needs funding system, and introducing a national funding formula.