The Minister for School Standards (Nick Gibb)
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies; I look forward to the 10 or 15 minutes ahead of us. I congratulate the hon. Member for Stroud (Dr Drew) on securing this important debate and on his introduction of it. I also thank my hon. Friends the Members for The Cotswolds (Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown), for Tewkesbury (Mr Robertson), for Gloucester (Richard Graham) and for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) for their important contributions. All of them continue to make strong representations to the Government about school funding in their area.
The Government are determined to create an education system that offers opportunity to everyone, no matter their circumstances or where they live. Schools must have the resources they need to make that happen. That is why we are investing more money in our schools, helping them to make the most out of every pound they receive, and delivering on our promise to make funding fairer through the introduction of the national funding formula. In 2017-18, funding was for the first time distributed to local areas based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country. That will also happen in 2018-19, for the second year running. This historic reform is the biggest improvement to how we allocate school funding for a decade and directs resources where they are needed most.
We all want to ensure that all children, regardless of where they live, receive a world-class education. We have made significant progress on that, thanks in part to our reforms. The attainment gap between rich and poor children is shrinking, the proportion of pupils in good or outstanding schools has increased from 66% in 2010 to 84%, and primary school children have achieved their highest ever score on international reading tests.
While more money is going into schools than ever before, we recognise the budgeting challenges that schools face and that we are asking them to do more. Because of that, and because children only get one chance to have a great education, the Government have prioritised school spending, even while having to take difficult public spending decisions in other areas.
In total, across the country, core funding for schools and high needs will rise from almost £41 billion in 2017-18 to £43.5 billion in 2019-20. Figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that real-terms per-pupil funding for five to 16-year-olds in 2020 will be more than 50% higher than it was in 2000. We can compare ourselves favourably to other countries. The UK spends as much per pupil on primary and secondary state education as any major G7 economy in the world, apart from the United States of America.
As well as providing additional funding for schools, we have made funding fairer by introducing the national funding formula. Under the previous system, schools with similar pupil characteristics received significantly different levels of funding for no good reason, meaning that some schools were not getting the resources that they needed. That is why it is so important that we have delivered on our promise to reform the unfair school and high-needs funding systems and introduce a national funding formula. Government Members have been particularly active over the years, through the f40 group, in ensuring that we have a fairer funding system.
Schools are already benefiting from the gains delivered by the national funding formula. Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school, while allocating the biggest increases to the schools that have been most underfunded. The underfunded schools will attract up to 6% more per pupil by 2019-20, compared with 2017-18. My hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester is absolutely right to insist on care in how we use language. He will be aware that the School Cuts website has been criticised by the UK Statistics Authority for some of the things stated on that website.
Gloucestershire schools will receive gains of 3.1% per pupil by next year, compared with 2017-18. That will mean an extra £19 million in total when rising pupil numbers are also factored in. On high needs, we have recently announced that we will provide £250 million of extra funding across England over this financial year and the next. In Gloucestershire, that means that the local authority will receive an additional £2.7 million across this year and the next, on top of the increases that were already promised.
It is important to keep it in mind that the purpose of the national funding formula is not to give every school the same level of per-pupil funding. Although that would be simple, it would not be fair. It is right that schools that have pupils with additional needs, such as those indicated by measures of deprivation or low prior attainment, should get extra funding to help those pupils. In addition, schools in more expensive areas, such as London, require higher funding per pupil to reflect the higher costs that they face. That extra funding is vital to support children who face greater barriers in education, be that because they come from a disadvantaged background, have low prior attainment or speak English as an additional language. Every child deserves to get the help that they need to reach their full potential, and that is why the national funding formula has protected the £5.9 billion of funding for additional needs across the system.
We do recognise the challenges faced by the lowest funded schools. In the national funding formula, we have included minimum per-pupil funding levels to guarantee that every school will attract a minimum amount of funding for every pupil. In 2019-20, the formula will provide at least £4,800 per pupil for every secondary school and £3,500 for every primary school. In Gloucestershire, secondary schools in particular benefit from that measure, with about half of secondary schools attracting extra funding as a result. We have not limited gains for schools benefiting from the minimum amounts, so the very lowest funded schools will see their funding increase fastest, and some schools will attract gains of 10% or more by 2019-20.