Labour is spending more than ever to support you

11th April 2003 at 01:00
The Government is committed to rising investment in education. In 1997 we provided pound;3,100 funding on average for each pupil aged between 11 and 15. This year it is estimated at pound;3,750.

Next year spending for schools is increasing by 11.6 per cent. This is an increase of pound;2.6 billion, pound;250 million more than the financial pressures we know schools have.

Individual school budgets are determined by many factors, including changes to pupil numbers, social deprivation and local decision making. However, this year there are special circumstances, with significant changes to the way funding for schools is distributed - changes that many headteachers and local education authorities have rightly argued for.

Each child will now attract the same level of basic funding from central government, wherever they live. There is extra for each child in deprived circumstances. There is also extra funding for LEAs in high-cost areas and rural authorities.

I accept that such change will cause some uncertainty. Some school and LEA budgets face substantial pressure.

We have worked hard for a fairer system: pound;100m went towards guaranteeing a minimum increase for all LEAs. Since then we have put in an extra pound;28m for LEAs with low increases; and pound;11m for the cost of the teachers' pay award in London. However, we do not set individual school budgets. LEAs have their own formulae for distribution. They make decisions, we hope, informed by school forums, about special needs and other LEA-wide provision. All these decisions affect each school budget.

It is vital that extra money from Government is passed onto schools and distributed sensibly.

Schools face different pressures. It is vital that in making budget predictions they compare like with like, and check all funding, including Standards Fund distributed via LEAs, is included in year-on-year changes in resources. LEAs need to support schools in thinking about their funding position over three years, not just the short term. Some LEAs have their own funding floor to protect schools.

Everyone would like more money. Our manifesto commits us to raising the share of national income for education. By 20056 we will be spending more than the European average. I am proud of that. But I know that one year above the average cannot erase the impact of many years below. That takes time. We are committed to working with LEAs and schools to make it happen.

David Miliband is the school standards minister

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