According to a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the amount of money spent per pupil in England has dropped by 8%. This analysis seemingly confirms the protests from school leaders who have disagreed with government insistence that school funding has not decreased.
Cuts to sixth form
The study took into account the sharp increase of pupil numbers when comparing the figures from 2009-2010 and 2017-2018, and it found that per-pupil spending had fallen significantly. The same was evident when looking at sixth form funding, which saw a harsh funding cut of 25%, with local authority support also losing 55% of its funding.
These drastic changes to sixth form and local authority support have been attributed to the efforts to save school budgets, however, this only takes into account students up to the age of 16.
It is just the latest in a long line of issues that many schools and teachers unions have had with the way that the government has dealt with school budgets. The government stated that school funding would rise significantly by 2020, but unions highlighted the current budgetary effects, which meant that teaching assistants were often left to be the ones covering a full class.
Teachers unions have stressed the importance of the study’s results, stating that pupil education has been put in jeopardy and that without a significant change, schools would be forced to cut back on what they can offer their students, thus denying them the opportunity to learn.
School leaders also stated that the overall cuts meant that they had no choice but to ask parents for monetary help. This includes assistance for essential classroom equipment, from pens and pencils to school dry wipe magnetic whiteboards, with many parents taking it upon themselves to shop for necessities such as School Dry Wipe Magnetic Whiteboards themselves.
This is disputed by the Department of Education, however, who claim that school funding is protected, despite claims from school leaders that they have been forced to cut staff due to the shortage of funding.
With the study confirming the doubts highlighted by teachers in recent years and the government stating that there will be the highest-ever level of funding by 2020, what is next for school budgets?