Julia Harnden, funding specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which shows that high cost pressures on schools mean the government is no longer on track to restore funding per pupil to 2010 levels in real-terms by 2024-25.
“It is a very poor reflection on the government’s priorities that it will have presided over a 15-year decline in school funding by the end of this parliament.
“While it may argue that there are inflationary pressures beyond its control, the fact is that it is the government itself which has proposed a teachers’ pay award for September without providing any additional funding for schools to afford these costs, and it has also consistently ignored our repeated warnings about the impact of soaring energy costs.
“The government insists that schools can broadly afford cost pressures in 2022/23 and the IFS says costs look just about affordable before real-terms cuts the following year.
“However, it is important to understand that the figures for 2022/23 are averages and that cost pressures and funding allocations will differ widely with the result that many schools will face deficit budgets and the prospect of having to cut educational provision.
“The trends highlighted in this report represent an increasing risk to school budgets in future years and the erosion of pretty much any chance of levelling-up aspirations being achievable.
“The situation in post-16 education is even worse. IFS analysis from last autumn showed college funding per pupil in 2024-25 will still be around 10% below 2010-11 levels, while school sixth form funding per pupil will be 23% below 2010-11 levels. It is likely that rising cost pressures will exacerbate this desperate situation.
“The government simply must respond by ensuring that schools and colleges have the funding they require to at least maintain provision, and if the government is serious about raising pupil attainment it must provide the resources that are needed to make that ambition achievable.”