Damian Hinds: Schools have 'more money than ever before in the history of the country'

29th January 2018 at 15:49
New education secretary tells MPs he is 'carefully considering' proposals to lift the faith cap on new free schools

The new education secretary has deflected concerns about school funding by saying they have more money “than ever before in the history of the country”.

Damian Hinds spoke during his first education question time in the House of Commons since his appointment earlier this month.

Mr Hinds was appointed education secretary after Justine Greening resigned rather than be moved to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Schools funding

During the today's question time, Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire urged Mr Hinds to “face up to the real crisis which is the real-terms cut in schools funding”.

In response, he said: “There is more money going into our schools in this country than ever before in the history of the country. We do know that in real terms, per pupil, across the system, it is increasing and with the national funding formula on a cash basis for each individual school they will see at least a small cash increase.”

Lifting the faith cap

Mr Hinds said he was “carefully considering” proposals in the to lift the 50 per cent faith cap on new free schools.

The proposal was included in a 2016 government consultation that also set out proposals, since dropped, to increase the number of grammar schools.

The government has yet to respond to the consultation.

Mr Hinds has previously supported lifting the faith cap, arguing in 2014 that it has prevented the Catholic church from opening free schools.

Commitment to LGBT-inclusive relationship and sex education

Labour MP Alex Norris asked whether the new education secretary retained his predecessor’s commitment to sex and relationships education being LGBT-inclusive.

Mr Hinds nodded as Mr Gibb said he could give that reassurance, and added: “We are clear that the new subject should ensure that young people learn that there are different types of relationships, and schools should ensure therefore that RSE is inclusive and meets the needs of all young people.”

Council control of academy trusts

Conservative MP for Stevenage Stephen McPartland said that Herts for Learning was the only local-authority controlled multi-academy trust (MAT) in the country, and the council had a more-than 25 per cent share of the trust.

Mr Hinds said he was happy to meet with Mr McPartland to discuss his concerns. The education secretary said the DfE limits local authority representation on academy trust boards to 19.9 per cent “to help maintain the independence of academies while at the same time ensuring boards can benefit from the right mix of skills and experience”.

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