Speech on School Funding

Some years before I came to this place, I chaired something called the Grant Maintained Schools Advisory Committee. For many years, we fought for a national funding formula. We failed because the civil servants kept saying that there would always be winners and losers—well, there are winners and losers now.

When the Minister for School Standards, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Nick Gibb), came up with a proposed national funding formula a few years ago, I was really excited because I thought that we were going to crack the nut. When he came up with the proposal, most of my schools were going to be winners; now, they are all—or nearly all—losers. We are not doing well in my area. I am really disappointed that the national funding formula really has not benefited my area at all. There are two local authorities: a unitary one in Derby city, and Derbyshire County Council. There is very little difference between the two.

Schools are already benefiting from more money: many schools that have been historically underfunded will attract up to 6% more per pupil compared with 2017-18. The Minister for School Standards said on 24 July last year:

“The formula allocates every local authority more money for every pupil, in every school, in both 2018-19 and 2019-20, compared to their 2017-18 baselines.”—[Official Report, 24 July 2018; Vol. 645, c. 67WS.]

As my right hon. Friend stated, more money than ever before is going to our schools. School funding is at a record high. The core schools budget has increased to £42.4 billion this academic year and is set to rise to £43.5 billion in 2019-20, and that follows the additional £1.3 billion of funding over and above what was promised in the last spending review.

That all sounds really good, and it is good news for Mid Derbyshire in terms of the school block allocation, which has seen a 2.9% increase since 2013. But that is against a backdrop of an average 4.6% increase in the east midlands region; across the UK, there has been a 4.8% increase. Although, the increase is positive, it is disappointing that the increase in Mid Derbyshire is not ​as significant as in the region as a whole and in England. The lowest allocation for a primary school in my area is £3,300 per pupil; the highest is £5,351. The schools are not markedly different. They do not have a particularly different intake, do not attract a huge pupil premium or need huge special needs provision. I cannot understand why there is such a disparity. The disparity in secondary education is not so marked: the lowest allocation is £4,629 and the highest £4,801.

Since 2013, 22 out of 29 of my primary schools have seen a decrease in funding. Little Eaton Primary School, which is near where I live, has lost £37 per pupil. Morley Primary School has lost £324. Ashbrook Infant and Nursery School has lost £162. Ashbrook Junior School has lost £14. Duffield Meadows Primary School has lost £25. Belper Long Row Primary School has lost £149. Pottery Primary School has lost £7, which is not so bad. Milford Community Primary School has lost £925. Herbert Strutt Primary School has lost £180. Breadsall Church of England VC Primary School has lost £245. St Andrew’s Church of England Primary in Stanley has lost £477. St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School has lost £16. William Gilbert Endowed Church of England Primary School has lost £45. Redhill Primary School has lost £105. Portway Infant School has lost £70, and the junior school has lost £146. Asterdale Primary School has lost £648. Springfield Primary School has lost £531. St Werburgh’s Church of England VA Primary School has lost £179. Lawn Primary School has lost £3, which is also not too bad. Borrow Wood Primary School has lost £185. The only secondary school to lose funding is Allestree Woodlands School, which, although it is not in a very different catchment area from the other three secondary schools, has lost £87 per pupil. The others have gained by £50-plus.

Little Eaton Primary School—which, as I have said, is near where I live—is receiving £3,542 per pupil, while in 2013 it was receiving £3,579 and in 2015 the figure rose to £3,730, its highest point, but it has still lost money. I do not understand why there are such disparities in funding, given the national funding formula, given that these are very similar schools with very similar catchment areas and very similar results, with no huge number of pupils with special needs—there are some, but it is a fairly average number—and without a huge amount of deprivation.

I urge the Secretary of State and his Ministers to think again. I do not like being negative, because the Government have done some amazing things for education and I applaud them for everything that they have done, but in this instance, in my constituency, I think that they have gone wrong.