AN influential committee of MPs is questioning whether education is still the Prime Minister's top priority.
Tony Blair won power in 1997 with his famous promise to focus on "education, education, education".
But the cross-party Commons Select Committee on Education said Government funding for schools would slow down significantly in coming years, compared with spending on other areas, such as health.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, the committee's chairman, said: "Spending on education is still growing, but schools must be told not to expect dramatic increases to their budgets.
"The Education and Skills Department should be straightforward with headteachers as to how much they will have to spend."
The committee said: "We remain uncertain as to why education and health have been relatively differently treated by recent public expenditure settlements.
"There is a risk that health service expenditure will begin to pre-empt education resources as public expenditure settlements become tighter."
The MPs said they had raised the issue with the Government because it seemed that health, not education, was the priority.
Government officials replied that priority was "not all about money".
The committee added that lower investment rates in universities may not be enough to keep Britain's status as a world leader in higher education.
And the MPs questioned the Government's plans for saving money by making schools more `efficient'.
Ministers want to save £4.3bn by using teachers' time more effectively and co-ordinating the way schools bought equipment and services.
The committee went on: "We are sceptical about whether it will in fact be possible for £4.3bn to be found in this way.
"The department needs to be explicit in stating that growth in expenditure on education and skills will slow down significantly in the coming period.
"For schools, that may mean growth of 2% to 3% a year in cash terms, compared to the 5% to 7% growth in recent years."
Mr Sheerman said more money should be spent on education for 16 to 19-year-olds because the country's age profile meant there would be more people in this group in future and fewer under-16s.
He also expressed fears over cash for university.
"While there have been clear improvements to schools finances, universities have received comparatively much smaller increases to their budgets," said Mr Sheerman.
"The department should commission research to investigate the potential effects of this."