Boris Johnson’s pledge to ensure every secondary school in England gets £5,000 per pupil could amount to as little as just under £50 million extra funding – or a 0.1 per cent increase in overall school spending.
Writing in the Telegraph, the Tory leadership frontrunner said it was “simply not sustainable that funding per pupil should be £6,800 in parts of London and £4,200 in some other parts of the country”, and pledged to “significantly to improve the level of per pupil funding so that thousands of schools get much more per pupil – and to protect that funding in real terms”.
According to the newspaper, Johnson is understood to want every secondary school to spend at least £5,000 per pupil if he becomes prime minister. Under the government’s current spending plans, secondary schools are already supposed to get a minimum of £4,800 per pupil.
Schools Week analysis of provisional national funding formula data for next year found just 33 of 150 local authorities are due to be funded at less than £5,000 per pupil.
To increase per-pupil funding to £5,000 for the roughly 773,000 secondary pupils in those areas would cost just £49.9 million – the equivalent to just over 0.1 per cent of the £43.5 billion the government will spend on schools in 2019-20.
The figures we used as part of our analysis are the actual secondary units of funding for schools which the government uses to calculate a local authority’s school block allocation.
They are provisional figures based on pupil numbers for the current year. Funding levels will be amended to reflect actual pupil numbers next year.
However the analysis shows Johnson’s funding pledge is way below the amounts being offered by other MPs.
Michael Gove, the former education secretary, said over the weekend that he will spend £1 billion extra on schools if he becomes prime minister.
Johnson’s leadership team did not respond for a request for comment on our analysis.
The pledges also fall well short of the amount needed to plug the funding gap left by real-terms cuts in recent years.
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, total school spending per pupil fell by 8 per cent in real-terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18. A £1 billion rise, as promised by Gove, works out at around 2.3 per cent of the overall schools budget for next year, which stands at £43.5 billion
If the money pledged by Gove was divided equally between the country’s 20,202 state primary and secondary schools, each one would get £49,500.
Correction: This analysis was amended at 16.00pm on June 3rd to clarify there are 33, not 32 councils, set to be funded at under £5,000 per secondary pupil.