The Tories claim education budgets are being protected -- new analysis suggests they're lying through their teeth.
Education Secretary Justine Greening told Parliament in July that “school funding is at a record high“. Figures today, however — and a ton of other evidence — suggest that education budgets are actually being cut by the government.
Over half of local authorities will see a real terms drop in school funding per pupil this year, analysis from the Liberal Democrats based on Department for Education figures showed today.
Real terms cuts to education spending will hit 83 of 150 local authorities in England in 2017-18 when the rate of inflation was taken into account, it was shown.
At a time when schools are already in a desperate financial situation, the new analysis suggests that education funding per pupil will drop by 0.7 per cent (or £29 per pupil) in England.
Schools in local authorities with the some of the worst results in England — such as in Blackpool, the Isle of Wight and Poole — will be hardest hit by the funding cuts, the new report claims.
Overall, the South East will be hardest hit, with funding per pupil falling by 3 per cent per pupil, or £131.
In addition to today’s figures, headteachers warned just days ago that funding in schools was at “breaking point” following cuts of, they claimed, £2.8bn over the past two years.
Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, warned that: “School budgets are at breaking point, putting standards at risk,” and that schools “expect their budgets to be untenable by 2019.” Whiteman went on:
“I’d be very surprised indeed if you hadn’t heard from a headteacher or a parent expressing concerns about school funding over the last few months.”
Headteachers warned in September that education funding has become a “postcode lottery” with some local authorities being forced to have class sizes of 35 pupils, whilst schools in other regions can afford classes nearly half the size.
Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran said: “We are seeing school spending slashed, resulting in a narrowing curriculum and in dedicated, hardworking teachers being forced out of the profession they love.”
“We need an education system that broadens young people’s horizons and equips them with the skills they need to be part of the workforce of the future.”
Today’s analysis bolsters a whole host of previous warnings that school budgets are being cut — don’t believe the Tory spin, we’re not in a golden age for education spending.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.