Government accused of ‘broken promises’ after thousands of schools appear to have funding cut

'Parents and school staff cannot trust what the government says on funding,' union says

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 07 January 2019 19:36 GMT
Hundreds of headteachers march on Westminster over school funding ‘crisis

The government has been accused of breaking a promise over school funding after a new analysis suggests that more than 4,800 schools have seen their budgets fall.

Ministers had repeatedly claimed every school would receive a cash increase but the National Education Union (NEU) has now said that recent government figures show this has not happened.

England’s largest teaching union said its analysis showed that 4,819 schools – a quarter of all primaries and one in six of all secondary schools – received less funding this year than the year before.

The government would have to pay more than £218m to ensure every school received a cash increase of at least 1p, according to calculations by the union.

Education secretary Damian Hinds told parliament in March last year that “each school will see at least a small cash increase” as a result of the government’s national funding formula.

Meanwhile, Theresa May later told the Commons in May last year that “the new national funding formula is providing for a cash increase for every school in every region”.

The analysis, which compared government records of funding allocated to schools in 2018-19 with 2017-18, follows criticism of the Department for Education’s (DfE) claim of high school spending.

In October last year, the head of the UK’s statistics watchdog raised “serious concerns” about the DfE’s misuse of statistics on levels of school funding.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “This is yet another failure and another broken promise by government on school funding.

“The fact remains that schools were never going to manage on the money promised by government.

“However, headteachers, teachers, school staff and parents will be dismayed that even the meagre amounts of funds supposedly allocated to schools will not be received by everyone.

“Parents and school staff simply cannot trust what the government says on education funding.”

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

He added: “Schools and sixth form colleges have been systematically underfunded with £2bn a year taken away from them since 2015. This is not pin money, it cannot be retrieved by just good housekeeping.

“Up and down the country schools are increasing class sizes, reducing teachers and school staff, cutting subjects from the curriculum and leaving building repairs undone.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “The Tories have cut billions of pounds from our schools, which have seen their budgets falling for the first time in a generation.

“With rising pressure on class sizes and teachers leaving in droves, a generation of children is paying the price for Tory failure.”

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school to make funding fairer across the country.

“Government provides this money to local authorities and they have the freedom to work with schools to allocate their budgets in a way that best suits local needs.

“It is also important to recognise that schools receive other sources of funding such as the additional teachers’ pay grant worth £187m this year.

“While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we do recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more.

“That’s why we’re supporting schools and headteachers, and their local authorities, to make the most of every pound.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in