PMQs: Jeremy Corbyn is right – schools funding changes hurt the most deprived pupils

These graphs from the IFS reveal the truth about May's plans


Jeremy Corbyn attacked the government’s ‘New Funding Formula’ for schools at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, demanding instead ‘a staircase for all, not a ladder for the few’.

If that image isn’t clear enough, here are some charts and graphs that support Labour’s position, from a he Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) briefing paper released today.

While the IFS welcomes the government’s drive to simplify school funding, it reveals holes in the claim the NFF will leave schools with roughly the same cash as they have now.

First, the government is already slashing money for schools. The report says:

“School funding per pupil has been frozen in cash terms between 2015–16 and 2019–20, resulting in a
real-terms cut of 6.5 per cent.

This would be the largest cut in school spending per pupil over a four-year period since at least the early 1980s and would
return school spending per pupil to about the same real-terms level as it was in 2010–11.

Any losses schools face as a result of the NFF come on top of this cut.”

So what losses are piled on top by the NFF?

As this table shows, spending per pupil will barely change between 2017-18 and 2019-20, with a temporary boost from transitional protections. But in real terms per pupil spending will decline by 2.5 per cent:

(The protections mean schools can’t lose more than 3 per cent of their funding.)

And the changes won’t affect all pupils equally. As this graph shows (in green), the most deprived secondary school pupils – those on free school meals – will actually see a cut in funding in cash terms:

And it’s a good thing we’ll have those protections, otherwise it would be a cut of over 2 per cent. But much can happen over the next few years, especially given Brexit. What will the government do when the protections come off in 2020?

The NFF conforms to the Prime Minister’s touching belief that governments have worried too much about the very poorest, and should do more for those who are better off but could use some help.

Labour are right to attack the government’s move away from targeting funds where they are needed most.

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