Anti-cuts group crunches the numbers: schools billions of pounds short in 2020 despite Tory promises.
Four out of five schools will still be worse off than they were in 2015 under Government spending plans, according to analysis by the School Cuts coalition.
The lobby group has worked out that around 16,000 — or 80% of UK schools — will have less money per pupil in 2020 they did in 2015. That’s despite “additional” funding announced by the Tories in August.
Geoff Barton, general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders, indicated that the government was investing after years of campaigners pointing out that school funding is in crisis.
“But analysis shows the additional funding is not enough to repair the damage that has been done to our schools and colleges and that further investment is required. We are not being churlish, we are just stating the facts. The funding crisis is not over,” Barton said.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has promised school funding would be “levelled up across the entire country” and that there would be “no winners or losers”. But this is not happening, according to the School Cuts Coalition’s analysis.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary at the National Education Union, said it amounted to “empty promises”.
“His numbers don’t add up,” he said. “The latest funding announcement falls well short of settling the shortfall for every child. It’s unthinkable that our schools have to go on like this – losing support staff, shedding subjects and cutting back on basic maintenance just to balance the books.”
The coalition’s figures reveal that the allocation to schools for 2020-21 is £2.5bn short of what it had in 2015. About a third of all schools will suffer budget cuts in real terms in 2020 — school costs have risen faster than inflation.
Children in almost all local authorities in England are losing out, with schools that are already suffering deprivation standing to be the worst affected. Pupils in their crucial sixth-form and college years continue to be hard hit, with funding for 16-19 education to fall short by £1.1bn in 2020.
“Even after an additional £700m, the High Needs Block will still be £1.5bn short of what is needed to support the most vulnerable children and young people in the education system,” according to a statement from the coalition.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Only new money from the Treasury can solve the school funding crisis.
“But there are gaps. Early years, SEND and sixth form education are all short. And schools won’t receive a penny until next year. In the meantime, they are still at breaking point and struggling to make ends meet.”
The analysis was launched at the Conservative Party conference, where the education secretary Gavin Williamson made an ambitious speech on improving schooling — perhaps bringing technical education in line with the likes of Germany by 2029.
However, the National Education Union’s Kevin Courtney pointed out that such ambitions will “come to nothing” without more funding.
“Yet again announcements on education are not backed up with the necessary funding to see their implementation or continued existence. Very disappointing,” he concluded.
Fleur Doidge is a freelance journalist at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.