Education Funding: Wirral

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 6:18 pm on 31st October 2017.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 6:18 pm, 31st October 2017

If the hon. Lady will be patient, I will come to each of those issues and specifically talk about the funding position of Kingsway Primary School, among the other schools that she mentioned, but I want to put this debate in the context of the reality of the situation that we are seeking to address.

When the proportion of secondary school pupils eligible for free school meals in London fell by more than 5% between 2007 and 2017, more than 25 times the decline nationally, the funding system did not respond to that change in the wealth level of London as the capital city. Addressing these damaging inequalities in the current system represents the biggest improvement in the school funding system for a decade, and from April 2018 we will introduce a national funding formula, which will, for the first time, put the funding system firmly on track to deliver resources on a consistent and transparent basis to every school in the country.

In September we published full details of the school and high needs national funding formula and the impact that it will have for every local authority. We have also published notional school-level allocations showing what each school would attract through the formula. This means that for the first time everyone can see what the national funding formula will mean for them and understand why. Alongside addressing these historical injustices, the importance of ensuring stability for all schools was also a consistent message throughout the consultation process. In recognition of that, over the next two years local authorities will continue to set their own local formula in consultation with the schools in their areas, which will determine each individual school’s budget. This will provide a small but important element of flexibility for local authorities, to allow them to respond to the changes as they come through.

School funding, as the hon. Member for Wallasey acknowledged, is at a record high because of the choices we have made to protect and increase school funding, even as we faced difficult decisions elsewhere, across Whitehall, to restore our country’s finances, and to address the historic budget deficit that we inherited in 2010. We understand that just like other public services, schools are facing cost pressures, and in recognition of this we announced in July an additional £1.3 billion for schools and high needs across 2018-19 and 2019-20—over and above the funding confirmed at the 2015 spending review. This additional funding means that the total schools budget will increase by over 6% between this year and 2019-20. As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed, that will mean that funding per pupil for schools and high needs will now be maintained in real terms for the remaining two years of the spending review.