£7bn package will give all children 'fairer chance'

Sunday 23 October 2011 05:45

A £7 billion package to boost education for poorer children will give a "fairer chance" for every child, Michael Gove said today.

Confirming the plans, including a "pupil premium" to increase funding for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, Mr Gove told the Commons that school spending would increase "in real terms".

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham questioned where the money would come from, calling for an assurance that there would not be "disproportionate cuts" to any other part of the department's budget.

The Education Secretary was forced to answer Mr Burnham's urgent question in the Commons after the "fairness premium" package was announced last week by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Mr Gove said the package would cost £7 billion over the course of the comprehensive spending review (CSR) period.

"This money will be invested in accelerating social mobility," he said.

The package announced by Mr Clegg will include 15 hours a week of free nursery education for the poorest two-year-olds, at a cost of £300 million a year by 2014/15, and a "pupil premium" with funds handed to schools to help pupils eligible for free school meals - a measure of poverty - which will eventually be worth £2.5 billion per year.

A "student premium" to help the poorest teenagers to go to university will also be set up, at a cost of at least £150 million per year by the end of the spending review period.

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