Government spending plans 'leave 80% of schools worse off next year'

Government spending plans will still leave four in five schools worse off next year than they were in 2015, campaigners have claimed today.

Despite the extra funding announced by the government last month, unions say that about 16,000 schools will have less money per pupil in 2020 in real terms than in 2015.

The School Cuts campaign released the new analysis ahead of education secretary Gavin Williamson addressing the Conservative party conference in Manchester today.

The government announced last month that the schools budget would rise to £7.1 billion by 2022, although no additional funding will be seen until next year.

The unions say that allocation to schools in 2020-21 still needs £2.5 billion to reverse the cuts which have taken place since 2015.

Campaigners claim that about a third of all schools will see real-term cuts to their budgets next year because school costs exceed inflation.

The additional funding announced by the government included £700 million earmarked for pupils with special needs, but the School Cuts coalition say that the High Needs Block will still be £1.5 billion short of what is needed.

The School Cuts coalition is made up of the National Education Union (NEU), the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Unison, Unite and the GMB.

Geoff Barton, ASCL general Secretary, said: “Analysis by the School Cuts coalition 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.”

Kevin Courtney, NEU joint general secretary, said: “Prime Minister Johnson has made lots of empty promises on school funding – but his numbers don’t add up. The latest funding announcement falls well short of settling the shortfall for every child. And crucially it fails to reverse the cuts schools have suffered since 2015.”

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said schools were “at breaking point and struggling to make ends meet”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “This government has announced the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade which will give every school more money for every child. We are investing a total of £14 billion more in schools over the next three years to 2022-23.

“This means all secondary schools will receive a minimum of at least £5,000 per pupil next year while all primary schools will get a minimum of at least £4,000 from 2021-22 – with the biggest increases going to the schools that need it most.

“The IFS has said that this investment will restore schools’ funding to previous levels in real terms per pupil by 2022-23.”

Analysis from the Education Policy Institute last month revealed that disadvantaged pupils would miss out on additional money under the prime minister’s pledge to “level up” per-pupil funding for schools. 

The think tank found that plans for new minimum per-pupil funding levels “would disproportionately direct additional funding towards the least disadvantaged schools”.

It was confirmed earlier this month that starting salaries for teachers will rise to £30,000 by 2022.