Last week, I welcomed Year 6 children from Rushbury CE Primary School to Parliament, as they enjoyed a day-trip to London, in their final week before breaking for the summer and progressing next term to secondary school.
Schools, and school funding, were quite rightly raised by voters during the recent General Election campaign, which I also pledged to support. So I welcomed our manifesto commitment, to ensure no school would lose funding due to the implementation of the new National Funding Formula for schools on which we have been consulting.
I have long supported the need for a new National Funding Formula. While funding for schools nationally is at a record high, thanks to the Government's decision to protect education from austerity, but for too long schools in South Shropshire and other rural areas, have received much lower levels of funding compared to urban areas, due to outdated formulae. Shropshire schools stand to benefit from this latest change in how funding is allocated.
Going further than our manifesto commitment, the Education Secretary has announced an extra £1.3 billion boost for core school funding. This additional funding provides an increase of £2.6 billion between this year and 2019-20.
The new formula will increase the amount per pupil by a minimum of 0.5% for every pupil for each of the next two years; allow for increases of up to 3% per pupil for underfunded schools for the next two years; and continue to protect funding for pupils with additional needs, as proposed in the consultation published last December.
The Education Secretary also confirmed the PE and Sports Premium for primary schools will increase from £160 million to £320 million. All primary schools will receive an increase in their PE and sports premium funding in the next academic year.
This additional funding is really welcome news for schools in the Ludlow Constituency, some of whom were concerned that draft proposals for the new national funding formula might reduce funding for them. What this will mean for each school in Shropshire under the new formula will be set out in September, but it is helpful as the summer holidays begin that each school now knows that every local authority area will get an increase over what they had planned to spend on schools next year, and on high needs in the coming academic year.
Nearly two million more pupils are now in schools rated by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding compared to 2010. Increasing the schools budget by a further £1.3 billion will help ensure we continue to improve educational standards and ensure every child gets the best possible start in life.