The campaign for better funding in shire schools has received a boost after an MP revealed that new Education Secretary Ruth Kelly was educated in Worcestershire.
Mrs Kelly's time as a pupil at St Mary's Roman Catholic primary school, in Broadway, Worcestershire, is not mentioned in her official biography.
But it was revealed by Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff (Con) as part of his his longrunning campaign to secure a better deal for county schools.
In urban Birmingham, schools receive £3,534 per pupil according to figures from the Department for Education.
But in Staffordshire, secondary schools receive £3,021 per pupil. In Worcestershire, they receive £3,012, in Herefordshire they receive £3,007, and in Shropshire they receive £2,986.
In a large school with 1,000 pupils, rural schools find themselves £500,000 poorer than their inner- city equivalents.
Mr Luff urged Ministers to change the funding system in the House of Commons.
He said: "We are desperate in Worcestershire. We have tried to get a fairer share of education funding, but it does not seem to be working."
He added: "I can reveal that the Secretary of State's excellent education foundations were partly laid down in Worcestershire at St Mary's Roman Catholic primary school in Broadway.
"I hope that the daughter of Worcestershire is our secret weapon at the heart of Government and is the straw that breaks the camel's back, giving the county the justice that it has been lacking."
Schools Minister Derek Twigg replied: "I have followed the discussions both as a Whip and since becoming a Minister.
"We will continue to keep the situation under review, but . . . we have no intention of making significant changes to the proposed funding arrangements."
Speaking afterwards, Mr Luff said: "Ruth Kelly's education foundations were laid, at least in part, in this county and I hope she will understand the need to treat us more fairly.
"Sadly the Minister held out little prospect of meaningful change - but I'll keep plugging our case until justice prevails!"