Opposition day debate: schools - House of Commons - 25 April 2018

Schools should also be given greater certainty of future funding, to help them better plan for the spending pressures they face. Three-year budgets should replace annual budgets.

Key messages

  • All children deserve access to the best possible education. Data shows that council-maintained schools receive better Ofsted ratings, and improve more quickly, than academy schools. Ofsted’s latest Annual Report on education and children’s services showed that ninety-one per cent of maintained schools are now rated as either good or outstanding.
  • We were pleased that the Government recognised concerns raised by the LGA and announced in July 2017 that an additional £1.3 billion would be allocated to schools during 2018-19 and 2019-20, meaning that no school would lose out under the new National Funding Formula.
  • While introduction of the National Funding Formula will see the budgets of 22,000 schools set in Whitehall, we are pleased that until 2020 at least, councils and schools will retain some flexibility to agree a slightly different allocation to reflect local needs and circumstances.
  • We remain concerned, however, that the introduction of the National Funding Formula, combined with changes to High Needs Funding, will exacerbate existing shortfalls in funding to support children and young people with SEND.
  • The Government should take advantage of councils' position in the community, to give them a clear and strategic role in school improvement and holding schools to account for education standards. Councils know their local schools best and are uniquely placed to offer up to date local knowledge. Local government must be empowered to help all schools improve where necessary, including academies and free schools. Councils should also have a clear role in decisions on the location of new academies and free schools.
  • Over recent years councils have created an extra 600,000 new school places. This is a demonstrable record that they are doing everything they can to rise to the challenge of ensuring no child goes without a place. Councils and schools work extremely hard to try and ensure that as many pupils as possible are allocated their first preference.