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  1. ITV Report

Government vows £1.3bn additional annual funding for schools

  • Video report by ITV News political correspondent Paul Brand

The government has promised an extra £1.3 billion for schools and high-needs programme each year for the next two years, to be funded from "efficiencies and savings" in the Department of Education's budget.

Education Secretary Justine Greening made the announcement as she confirmed plans to introduce a national funding formula for schools, but Labour dismissed it as "nothing more than a sticking plaster" and warned the extra money would mean cuts elsewhere.

Ms Greening told the Commons: "I'm confirming our plans to get on with introducing a national funding formula in 2018/19, and I can announce that this will additionally now be supported by significant extra investment into the core schools budget over the next two years."

She said the government had "recognised" concerns raised during the general election about school funding and that the extra investment would mean schools could "offer a world-class education to every single child".

But Angela Rayner, Labour's shadow education secretary, called the announcement "nothing more than a sticking plaster", pointing out that per pupil funding would in fact decline.

"Per pupil funding will still fall over the course of this parliament unless further action is taken urgently," she said.

"I will welcome the opportunity to protect budgets for our schools but this statement alone will do nothing of the kind."

Angela Rayner warned that per pupil funding would still fall over the course of the parliament Credit: PA

According to Ms Greening, the extra funding will mean an additional three percent additional funding per pupil for underfunded schools and an extra 0.5 percent for all other schools.

The increase in per pupil funding was welcomed by MPs - Conservative former minister Anna Soubry said Ms Greening should be awarded a "huge gold star" - but those on the opposition benches pressed the education secretary on where the additional money was coming from.

Ms Greening acknowledged that the money is not new, but will come entirely from savings identified in the Department for Education.

On how the extra £2.6 billion - made up of £1.3 billion in 2018/19 and a further £1.3 billion in 2019/20 - will be funded, Ms Greening said £420 million would be found from the main schools capital budget - the majority of which would come from healthy pupils capital funding.

Ms Greening said that while she "remains committed" to the free schools programme and delivering the 140 new schools announced at the last Budget, working more efficiently to deliver it could save £280 million.

The government expects school funding to be assigned under a new national formula Credit: PA

Labour former minister Christopher Leslie warned the plans sounded like "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and called on Ms Greening to lay out exactly what was to be cut.

In a dig at comments supposedly made by the Chancellor Philip Hammond that emerged over the weekend, Ms Rayner said: "Astoundingly, this is all being funded without a penny of new money from the Treasury. Perhaps the chancellor didn't want to fund schools and thought that teachers and teaching assistants are simply more overpaid public servants."

The government's national funding formula will be a new mechanism to decide how much funding each state school in England receives, with the intention of ironing out discrepancies caused by allocations by local authorities, although the planned roll-out of the formula has been delayed.