Exclusive: Ministers considering 'all the options' for increasing school funding

Sources say Justine Greening had wanted Tory manifesto to protect real terms per pupil funding but was overruled

Martin George

Martin George

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Ministers are now considering “all the options” on increasing school funding, according to sources close to the Department for Education. 

They have also revealed that Justine Greening – reappointed education secretary on Sunday – had always wanted the Conservative election manifesto to include a promise to protect real-terms per pupil school funding.

However, the sources say Ms Greening was overruled by the manifesto's authors, who said the money was not available.

Instead, the Conservatives promised to increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022, which the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies said would represent a 2.8 per cent cut in real terms per pupil funding over the period.

Tes also understands that Ms Greening was not consulted about the controversial Tory manifesto commitment to replace free school lunches for all infants with free school breakfasts for all primary school pupils.

Budgets could grow

School funding became a key issue in the election campaign, with Labour promising a real-terms increase in per pupil funding.

Yesterday, prime minister Theresa May reportedly told Conservative MPs that the age of austerity was over, and there has been speculation that schools could see their budgets increased as ministers look to neutralise the issue.

A source close to the DfE told Tes: “There is now a process looking at all the options on funding.”

However, they added that any decisions about increasing the schools budget would have to be taken at the top of government.

On the wider set of manifesto commitments, which include the introduction of a national funding formula for schools, they said ministers were looking at what they would be able to take forward, adding: “Any government business requiring legislation is going to have to have to take account of the new parliamentary arithmetic.”

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