Pay rise costs take sheen off extra funding

School funding will still be six per cent lower than it was in 2010 after cash swallowed up by rising salaries is taken into account, a new study has found.

The government has promised to pump an extra £7.1 billion into the schools budget by 2023, which the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said “near enough” reverses the 9 per cent spending cuts since 2010.

However, the organisation’s annual report on spending, published today, says the real-terms increase is actually only 6 per cent once cash to cover teacher pay rises is taken into account.

The report also flags how the funding advantage per pupil at the most deprived schools has shrunk from 35 per cent in 2011 to 25 per cent in 2019 – despite the introduction of the pupil premium payments.

Dr Luke Sibieta, research fellow at the IFS, said this will present a particular problem for these schools with a “likely widening of educational inequalities during lockdown”.

He added: “Most of the Covid catch-up funding will be spread across all schools, regardless of disadvantage. This provides a strong case for greater targeting of additional funding to more deprived schools.”

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said it is “shameful that those serving deprived communities have been particularly badly affected.

“On the ground, this translates into cuts to the curriculum, and larger class sizes”.

The Department for Education said its funding boost is “giving every school more money for every child”.

They said the national funding formula will “continue to target additional funding … for schools with high numbers of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds”.

But the IFS said the NFF will deliver funding increase of up to four percentage points less in schools in poorer areas compared to their more affluent counterparts up to 2021.