The Education Secretary has announced an extra £1.3bn in funding of schools in England over two years – to be raised by cuts elsewhere in the wider education budget.
Justine Greening said the money, which amounts to around £650m a year, would be rolled out at the same time as a new funding formula for schools.
She argued that the new schools funding formula, to be introduced next year, would replace a current funding system that was “unfair, opaque and out of date”.
“We recognise that at the election people were concerned about the overall funding level in schools as well as its distribution, and as the Prime Minister said we are determined to listen,” she told the House of Commons.
In a crucial change of policy direction, £280m of the cash is expected to come from cuts to the free schools programme budget – previously a flagship programme for the Government.
The spending change follows a debate in Theresa May’s Cabinet about the extent to which the Conservatives should relax austerity and spending cuts.
Ms Greening, who hailed the cash as the biggest increase in schools funding in a decade, is among ministers to have apparently called for more cash for her department – but she has apparently failed to convince the Chancellor to provide extra funding.
“The additional funding I am setting out today together with the introduction of a national funding formula will provide schools with the investment they need to offer a world class education to every single child,” she told MPs on Monday afternoon.
“There will therefore be an additional £1.3bn for schools and high needs across 2018-19 and 2019-20 in addition to the schools budget set at spending review 2015.
Ms Greening said the funding would help schools “transition to the national funding formula” and that future spending decisions would be set out in a future spending review.
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The Education Secretary said the total schools and high needs budget would increase from £41bn in 2017-18 to £42.4bn in the first year of the increase and £43.5bn in the year after that.
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner accused the Conservatives of being in “full retreat from their own manifesto”.
“Astoundingly, this has all been 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 were just more overpaid public servants,” she said.