Unprecedented reduction in education funding since World War II

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According to a new report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), the English education system has faced its biggest funding shortage since World War II in the past decade, with successive governments failing to prioritize spending for schools.

Public funding for education for 2019-2020 was equivalent to 4.4% of national income (£ 104bn), up from 5.4% in 2010-11, the report reveals.

If funding had been kept at this level, in 2019-20 alone there would have been an additional £ 16bn in education funding.


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The report also says the funding increase announced in the recent budget will only see schools return to 2010 funding levels by 2024.

Luke Sibieta, researcher at IFS and co-author of the report, said Your it was a “low bar” to turn back to and for many in education it “will always feel like pressure”.

The worst is the worst

Mr Sibieta also warned that the decline in overall national spending on education had hit schools and students in disadvantaged areas hard.

“This lost decade of funding has not favored underprivileged schools and has actually been better for those in richer areas,” he said.

Over the past decade, the most disadvantaged secondary schools have seen a 14% drop in real per student spending between 2009-10 and 2019-20, compared to a 9% drop for the least disadvantaged schools, according to the report. IFS. .

The financing of Pupil Bonuses (PP) has also not kept pace with inflation since 2015. Mr. Siebita says this needs to be resolved if the government is “serious about its upgrading program” and that it may be necessary to recalibrate the way PP funding is allocated to also incorporate free school meals data. (FSM).

He added: “We know that students who are permanently eligible for WSF achieve the worst educational outcomes, so it might be wise to change this distribution to focus on areas that are experiencing truly persistent levels of disadvantage and with more guidance. funding for these kinds of areas. ”

Primaries get a bigger share of the funding

The paper also reveals that the per-student funding gap between primary and secondary schools has narrowed from 50% in the 1990s and 30% in the 2000s to just 14.4% today – to 5 £ 800 per primary pupil and £ 6,600 per secondary pupil.

The IFS said the rationale for increasing the share of primary funding in this measure was questionable: “While the empirical evidence shows high benefits for spending at a younger age, it is not clear that the evidence supports such a dramatic change, ”he says.

Salary increases

One positive conclusion is that planned increases in school budgets by 2024 will add an additional £ 5bn to the funding pot, meaning that schools should be able to afford the planned increase in salaries for new teachers in 30,000 pounds, according to Sibieta.

“We estimate this will add around £ 1.7bn to school spending, which will therefore be affordable,” he added.

However, he noted that other plans to increase the salaries of more experienced staff by 2 to 3 percent “might not be ambitious enough,” especially when many teachers have experienced a real-time pay cut of. 8 percent since 2007 compared to a rising costs.

The report also noted that funding for early childhood providers has remained precarious, with the past decade seeing years of funding stagnation punctuated by occasional increases in 2012 and 2017 – and again now – which are then eroded by the inflation in the following years.

In response to the report, Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the IFS data was a “grim indictment of the government’s education spending record ”and a“ dreadful legacy ”to look back on.

He said it was clear that while the recent planned funding increases were a “step in the right direction”, more was needed, especially to help those who need it most.

“It is clear that the government’s efforts to ‘upgrade’ require more action and less rhetoric, with disadvantaged schools suffering larger cuts during this period than less disadvantaged schools,” he said. he declares.

“The government needs to match its mantra on ‘leveling up’ with long-term, strategic and sustainable investments in schools, colleges, children and youth. “

The Department of Education has been contacted for comment.

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