Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are planning further austerity for schools

Spending per pupil in 2024-25 is expected to be 3% lower than in 2010, after costs for schools are taken into account.

Sunak and Truss

There have been a glut of policy announcements from both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss in recent days, as they try to grab the attention of Tory party members who are receiving their ballot papers this week to choose who they want to replace Boris Johnson.

Much of the focus has been on tax cuts and their future vision for the economy, as Britain finds itself in the middle of a cost of living crisis, falling living standards and growing inequality.

What hasn’t been given much attention during the leadership campaign however is the consensus among both contenders that state schools will just simply have to do with yet more austerity.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has revealed research today which shows that between 2009-10 and 2019-20, school spending per pupil in England fell by 9% in real-terms, according to analysis by the IFS. It’s a trend that won’t be reversed.

Spending per pupil in 2024-25 is expected to be 3% lower than in 2010, after costs for schools are taken into account.

According to the same study, salaries for most teachers in 2022 will be about 12% lower in real terms than in 2010.

Luke Sibieta, IFS Research Fellow and author of the report said: “On top of rising energy and food prices, schools now also face the cost of rising salaries for teachers and support staff. Within the context of a £4 billion rise in the school budget this year, these costs look just about affordable – at least on average.

“Next year looks much more problematic, however, with growth in funding per pupil expected to fall below growth in school costs. Indeed, the fast rises in school costs will reduce school budgets’ purchasing power and leave spending per pupil in 2024 still about 3% lower in real-terms than in 2010.”

The latest findings are yet more proof that claims of wanting to level up are nothing but mere rhetoric.

It’s also worth pointing out that the most deprived secondary schools in England saw a 14% real-terms fall in spending per pupil between 2009–10 and 2019–20, compared with a 9% drop for the least deprived schools.

Yet the next round of austerity that both Tory leadership candidates seem hell-bent on inflicting on schools has received little attention. It desperately needs highlighting and calling out.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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