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Government to cut school funding for first time since 1990s, IFS says

Teachers say they are leaving the profession because they cannot do their jobs

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Monday 27 February 2017 10:12 GMT
The National Governers’ Association has said the amount of money being provided by Theresa May’s Government is already not enough to educate British children
The National Governers’ Association has said the amount of money being provided by Theresa May’s Government is already not enough to educate British children

The Government is to cut school funding per pupil for the first time since the mid 1990s, a new analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has determined.

The respected think-tank calculated that real-terms terms spending on school pupils would drop by 6.5 per cent over the course of this parliament, with further education funding also set for significant decreases.

The IFS said schools funding had been well protected for the last two decades but that further education has already been squeezed.

“Over the next few years, both further education and schools are due to experience cuts. For schools, this comes on the back of very significant increases over the last few decades,” one of the report’s authors, IFS associate director Luke Sibieta said.

“For FE, this comes on the back of tight funding settlements for decades that will leave spending per student the same in 2020 as it was in 1990. The lack of priority given to FE by successive governments in spending settlements does not seem sustainable."

The report adds: “This will be the first time schools have seen real-terms cuts in spending per pupil since the mid 1990s.”

On Monday morning the National Governors’ Association said the amount of money being provided by the Government was simply not enough to educate Britain’s children.

“The Department for Education unfortunately doesn’t know how much it costs to educate a pupil whether it be a primary or secondary pupil,” Emma Knights, the association’s chief executive, old BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“They don’t know how much it should cost if you’re an efficient school providing a good education for each pupil.”

“What [the IFS analysis is] really showing us is the cake simply isn’t big enough to educate all the pupils that we have across the country.”

The funding shortfall is driving some senior teachers to leave the profession because they say they simply cannot do their jobs properly

Headteacher Mary Sandell of Forest School in Winnersh, Berkshire, said she was one of those quitting for this reason.

Speaking on the same programme she said: “I'm leaving something I love because quite simply there is not enough money to do the job properly.

She said that under current funding levels her school “cannot replace equipment, we cannot improve the buildings, we can't even afford textbooks for new specifications”.

“I've been in education since 1980 and it's the worst it's ever been from my perspective,” she added.

Last week the National Audit Office said that the Government was spending billions on its pet 'free schools' project while existing schools crumbled.

A Department for Education spokesperson denied there was any funding problem.

“School funding is now at its highest level on record at more than £40bn in 2016-17 and the IFS has shown that by 2020 per pupil spending in schools is set to be at least 70 per cent higher in real terms than it was in 1990,” the spokesperson said.

“We are transforming post-16 education and investing £7bn to ensure there is a place in education or training for every 16 to 19-year-old who wants one.”

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