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11 Nov 2008 : Column 263WH—continued

In the meantime, as our review progresses, we are providing support to schools and local authorities to help them make the most of their funding and resources. My Department has produced a package of measures, including a day’s free consultancy advice for every school, combining educational and financial expertise, and a new interactive website that will serve as a gateway to
11 Nov 2008 : Column 264WH
existing guidance on improving value for money and as an ongoing means of support.

Mr. Cox: I am grateful for what the Minister says, because much of it is of great interest—for example, the review and the invitation to participate in it will be welcomed—but I asked her a specific question and I wonder whether she feels able to answer it. Let us suppose that one of the anxious and strained head teachers from a small rural school—I met many of them over the summer because they wanted to see me—said to her, “Why am I having endlessly to take more teaching responsibility? Why are my teaching assistants ever more stretched? Why can I no longer subscribe to the library? And why must I send out for volunteers to help repaint the school?” Could the Minister answer those questions, because they do not understand why?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: As I said, on value for money, we are providing support to schools to help them work their way through such questions. There may be new, innovative ways in which they could manage their budget. My Department would be more than willing to help schools to do that.

In the children’s plan, we committed ourselves to having a world-class education system for all and to an ambitious target of making this country the best place in the world to grow up. I mentioned our vision for 21st-century schools. We want them to be the best that they can be. We need to develop a funding system that will support that concept.

We are saying to children and young people everywhere, “Your communities, your education, and your future are worth investing in.” That is our aim as we take the review forward to the next funding formula for 2011 onwards. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will take the opportunity to get involved in the review. I am sure he will; he has already demonstrated his commitment to his local schools.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at one minute to Two o’clock.

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