Justine Greening has insisted she would “never be complacent” about school funding, while acknowledging the difficult decisions facing headteachers and governors.
But speaking exclusively to Tes, the education secretary said that money was not the only thing that matters for schools, highlighting the importance of the government also “having the right strategy”.
Today Ms Greening confirmed details of the long awaited new national funding formula for schools.
And the education secretary has used her Tes interview to make clear how proud she is of her record on funding.
She highlighted the additional £1.3 billion she announced in July for schools, found from elsewhere in the DfE budget, and the introduction of the funding formula, to address the wildly varying levels of funding received by similar schools in different areas.
When challenged about recent heart-rending stories of the effects of the funding squeeze at the chalkface, Ms Greening acknowledged the difficulties schools face.
“I have been a school governor in the past for 14 years, so I do know about the discussions that governing bodies have around how to make best use out of the money that is available, and I know often they are not always easy discussions,” she said.
“But we are putting record levels of funding into our education system; we have now managed to make sure in the final years of the spending review that pupil funding can be maintained in real terms.”
In the past, the “record levels of funding” mantra has caused headteachers’ eyes to roll and a feeling among some that ministers either “don’t get it” or “don’t want to get it”.
“I would never be complacent about the levels of school funding,” Greening retorted.
“What I’m saying is that we all recognise that investment is part of the strategy, but critically, how you then make sure that (a) that gets to the front line, which is what we were doing with the £1.3 billion, and (b) that we have schools that can really get the most out of that investment, that really know what works.”
Read the full interview with Justine Greening in tomorrow's edition of Tes magazine, available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here