Chancellor Gordon Brown today announced a #34 billion investment spree for education as he promised to bring state schools up to the standard of their private counterparts.
Delivering his tenth Budget, Mr Brown put the focus firmly on education, raising annual investment from #5.65 billion to #8 billion over the next five years.
He also promised an extra #440 million to go direct to school heads - an average of #190,000 per secondary school - to pay for extra teachers.
* Don't miss our comprehensive budget analysis in Thursday's Birmingham Post *
There was bad news for drivers of gas guzzling 4x4s with a new #210 rate of road tax for the most polluting vehicles as he sought to establish his green credential.
However, he risked the wrath of the environmental lobby by freezing fuel tax and leaving air passenger tax unchanged.
Mr Brown said that he would finance his plans with a #30 billion sell off of public assets and and new efficiency drive across Whitehall.
Mr Brown announced that drivers with cleaner engines would have their road tax cut to just #40 while the "greenest" cars would pay nothing at all.
The new top rate of vehicle excise duty of #210 will hit the most polluting new cars - affecting 1% of vehicles on the road.
But Mr Brown said the number of motorists paying lower rates of #100 or less would increase from 300,000 to three million.
Mr Brown also put 9p on 20 cigarettes, 4p on a bottle of wine and 1p on a pint of beer.
Duty on whisky, other spirits and cider was unchanged.
And he added: "In anticipation of World Cup success this summer, I am freezing duty on champagne ... and on British sparkling wine."
Mr Brown announced more money to train British sporting hopefuls ahead of the 2012 Olympics, which he said would be a "proud moment for London and the whole of Britain".
He said: "Recent results in Melbourne - and India - have shown the outstanding young sporting talent in our country.
"For training and facilities for our world class athletes of the future, I can announce #200 million of public money to be matched by raising #100 million in sponsorship from the private sector, and with another #300 million from the lottery, over #600 million in total: world class funding for world class athletes."
The Chancellor announced the funding of a memorial to the victims of last year's July 7 terror attacks on London.
He told MPs: "We will never forget those who lost their lives and those who were injured.
"And today we are allocating funds towards a memorial that will reflect the wishes of the victims' families."
He also confirmed plans for a new charitable fund to support British citizens injured in or affected by terrorist acts at home and abroad.
He said the Government would give an initial endowment of #1 million to the fund.
Tory leader David Cameron accused Mr Brown of mortgaging Britain's future with his borrowing plans and "squandering" billions of pounds.
Mr Cameron, who was the butt of several barbed jokes during the Chancellor's speech, hit back by claiming that the only good ideas Mr Brown had produced were his.
The Tory leader said: "Cut through all the rhetoric and what we've got is a Chancellor who has taxed too much, borrowed too much and is a road block to reform."