Politics

School cuts: Ministers’ seats will be £7.4m worse-off next year

But constituencies of DfE politicians will face a smaller average cut than the rest of England, analysis shows

But constituencies of DfE politicians will face a smaller average cut than the rest of England, analysis shows

A magnifying glass over money

Widespread cuts to school budgets mean schools in the constituencies of education ministers will be £7.4 million poorer in the next financial year in real terms, new data suggests.

New data published by the National Education Union (NEU) on its school cuts website today reveals the scale of the real terms spending cuts schools are facing next year, as leaders warn that the majority of schools are now considering making “desperate cuts”, including teaching redundancies.

In a move that will likely provoke outrage among parents ahead of the chancellor’s autumn statement on November 17, the newly relaunched school cuts website now predicts that 90 per cent of schools will have lower per pupil funding in real terms in 2023-24, compared to the current financial year.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that behind these bleak statistics lies a human story.

“There will be no alternative other than to cut the number of teachers and support staff, and this will lead to larger class sizes, reduced curriculum options, and less support for pupils.

“Projects to improve facilities will be scrapped, the heating will remain off for longer, and everything from school trips to school meals will be affected.”

Ministers’ seats face smaller-than-average school cuts

Across England, the website suggests the typical cut will be £147 per pupil.

However, a Schools Week analysis reveals that, on average, schools in the constituencies represented by education ministers Gillian Keegan, Nick Gibb, Robert Halfon and Claire Coutinho will face smaller real terms spending cuts of £144 per pupil.

Overall, in their constituencies – which are all in the south of England – school funding will be cut in real terms by £1.9 million on average compared to this year. In other constituencies across England, the average cut is £2.1 million.

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Whiteman

Today, a survey of more than 11,000 school leaders in England by school leaders’ union NAHT also revealed that two-thirds (66 per cent) are planning to either make teaching assistants redundant or reduce their hours next year.

Half (50 per cent) also said they are looking at reducing the number of teachers or teaching hours.

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said schools were “being hit by a perfect storm of costs”.

“In attempting to balance their budgets, school leaders are being faced with eye-watering energy bills, spiralling costs to resources and supplies, and the financial impact of an unfunded pay increase this year.

“With no fat left to cut following a decade of austerity, many thousands of schools are now looking at falling into deficit unless they make swingeing cuts. Education is truly in a perilous state.”

Half of leaders say schools will be in deficit this year

More than half (54 per cent) of school leaders told the union their schools will go into deficit this year, unless they make further cuts.

The outlook is even bleaker for the next academic year, when only 5 per cent of school leaders expect to meet their costs without going into deficit.

The school cuts website was originally launched in November 2016 and the NEU says it helped make school funding “a key issue” at the 2017 general election.

Research from Survation conducted shortly after the election showed that 10.4 per cent of voters changed their mind about who to vote for due to the candidate’s school funding policy.

However, in 2019, the UK Statistics Authority said a claim by the school cuts website that 91 per cent of schools were facing funding cuts gave a “misleading impression”.

Luke Sibieta from the Institute for Fiscal Studies told Schools Week the new figures on the School Cuts website “broadly align with our analysis of trends in school spending”.

“Next year is likely to be a particularly tough year, though how tough will depend on the exact level of inflation, which is incredibly uncertain and volatile at present”.

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