Minimum secondary school per-pupil funding to rise to £5,150

Secondary schools will receive at least £5,150 for each pupil from 2021, the government has announced.

Ministers have set out the minimum funding levels for schools that will apply under the second year of their three-year funding settlement.

Schools in inner London are set for the lowest increase (2.3 per cent), while schools in the south west and south east are the biggest winners, with rises of 3.6 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively (see table below).

Ahead of the 2019 general election, the Conservatives pledged additional school funding of £14 billion over three years.

However, the Office for Statistics Regulation said at the time that the pledge “could mislead” people, given the actual increase in the school budget by 2022-23 will be just £7.1 billion.

Under the funding plan, the overall schools budget increased by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, and is set to rise again by £4.8 billion in 2021-22.

Ministers said per-pupil funding would rise to £5,000 for secondary schools and £3,750 for primary schools for 2020-21, and had previously announced primary per-pupil funding would rise to at least £4,000 in 2021-22.

Now the government has said secondary per-pupil funding will be at least £5,150 in 2021-22, as part of the £4.8 billion increase.

However, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the increase will still leave schools with less in real terms than they had a decade ago.

Analysis by the think tank shows that even by 2022-23, funding will still be 0.7 per cent below what it was in 2009-10, based on today’s prices.

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said this year had been “incredibly challenging for schools, teachers, and students due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with everyone working in education going to incredible lengths to support children and ensure they can get back to the classroom”.

“Not only are we confirming another year of increased and better targeted funding for our schools, but with our transformative national funding formula we are making sure the money is distributed fairly across the country so all schools can drive up standards.”

The national funding formula, through which minimum funding levels are guaranteed, will not fully come into effect until next April.

Implementation of the formula, which is supposed to address historic regional discrepancies in school funding, has been repeatedly delayed because of political issues, but councils will finally have to allocate money based on the formula from the beginning of the next financial year.

The government said today that two thirds of councils are now allocating school funding based on the national funding formula, but admitted there was “still more to do” and pledged to “soon put forward plans to deliver funding to schools directly through the national funding formula so that all schools receive the funding they deserve”.

However, school leaders have raised concerns that the planned funding settlement doesn’t take into account the additional costs schools have incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools Week revealed last month that the DfE was refusing to reimburse costs of preventative measures associated with bringing more pupils back to school.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL leadership union, said his organisation was “disappointed that it has so far failed to recognise the impending financial impact on schools of safely bringing back pupils from September”.

“It presently has no plans to reimburse additional costs incurred as a result of implementing the safety measures which must be introduced to enable the return of all pupils.

“These include extensive cleaning schedules, large quantities of hand sanitisers, extra hand-washing facilities, and cover for staff who are unable to attend because they are self-isolating. Schools’ budgets are very tight and they simply do not have enough money to cope with a national emergency.”

 

Regional breakdown:

Region Total funding per pupil (20-21) Total funding per pupil (provisional 2021-22) Increase in Funding Per Pupil (£) Increase in Funding per pupil (%)
East Midlands £4,915 £5,078 £163 3.3%
East of England £4,857 £5,013 £156 3.2%
Inner London £6,548 £6,697 £149 2.3%
Outer London £5,371 £5,502 £132 2.5%
North East £5,042 £5,214 £172 3.4%
North West £5,051 £5,214 £162 3.2%
South East £4,801 £4,967 £166 3.5%
South West £4,828 £5,002 £173 3.6%
West Midlands £5,034 £5,192 £157 3.1%
Yorkshire and the Humber £5,031 £5,193 £162 3.2%