'Starved of resources': School funding dominates first PMQs since election called

Theresa May defends school funding as general election countdown begins

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Theresa May has defended school funding levels in the first Prime Minister's Questions since she called a snap general election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn this afternoon used two of his questions in the House of Commons to attack the government on school funding.

He said: "Schools funding being cut for the first time in a generation. The prime minster is cutting £3 billion a year from school budgets by 2020."

The National Audit Office has said schools will have to make £3 billion of savings by 2019-20.

He told MPs: "Our children's schools are starved of the resources they need to educate our children in the future", and raised the number of parents receiving letters from schools begging for money for books.

Ms May replied: "There are record levels of funding going into our schools."

She added that Labour was offering "one size fits all, local authority-run schools, no choice, good or bad, trust your luck. We don't trust to luck, and we won't trust the Labour Party. We will provide a good school place for every child."

The prime minister said she would look at the financial problems faced by small rural schools.

Conservative Maria Caulfield told her that, in Lewes, many small rural schools would suffer funding cuts under the proposed national funding formula.

The prime minister: “I recognise that small rural schools, particularly, have particular issues and I am very happy to look at those concerns to ensure that we get the finding formula right and we can spread the money as fairly as possible.”

Four other backbenchers raised the issue of school funding during the session, including Conservative Michelle Donelan, who asked the prime minister to reaffirm her commitment to fair funding for school.

She also called for eligibility for the pupil premium to be widened to include young carers, mental health and bereavement.

Ms May said: “I think it is right that schools are best placed to prioritise the needs of their pupils and can use their funding to ensure that they are supporting any pupil facing disadvantage, financial or otherwise.”

Labour MP Jeff Smith said Manchester was hit harder than any other area outside London, and highlighted two high schools in his constituency he said were losing the equivalent of more than 30 teachers.

He asked the prime minister what she would cut, and which subject teachers she would sack.

Ms May said that funding was currently “not fair across the country,” and added: “We have consulted on [the national funding formula] and will obviously be responding to that consultation.”


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