This website shows the budget cuts that state schools in England have faced over the last three years. This page will tell you everything you need to know about how we calculate our figures.

If you’d like to fact-check or reproduce our numbers, skip ahead to our lengthier methodology, annotated with our formulas and the datasets we source from.


What do the numbers on the website mean?

The figures on this website show the difference between how much funding schools currently receive per pupil compared to what they received in 2015/16. Our numbers are based on actual allocations of school funding and reported costs over this period, rather than projected budgets.


How are the figures calculated?

We take the Government’s public data on school funding and compare their most recent figures from 2018/19 with those of 2015/6.

The figures are shown in real-terms – that means they are adjusted to take into account school costs over this three-year period.

Inflation, put simply, means the increase in everyday prices from year to year. Because school funding has not kept up with rising prices (and there are more pupils in school than ever before), schools in England today have £5.4bn less to cover their costs than they did in 2015/16.


Why do we use 2015/16 as a baseline for comparison?

We use 2015/16 figures for comparison because this is in line with the HM Treasury’s baseline. The 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review promised that “schools funding will be protected in line with inflation” from that year.


Where do we get our data?

We use the Government’s own data as the basis for all of our calculations.

Specifically, we have taken into account these datasets:

  1. Schools Block allocations (including the new Teacher Pay Grant)
  2. Pupil Premium allocations
  3. 16 to 19 allocations

We also use the Government’s data on Schools’ Costs to see how much prices have increased between 2015-16 and 2018-19.

Previously, this campaign calculated figures based on the Government’s stated expectations for future spending on schools, compared with the baseline of schools funding from 2015/16.

We have now updated how we calculate school cuts using the actual reported level of funding that schools received between 2015/16 and 2018/19 – not budget projections. For many schools, what they actually received in 2018/19 was less than the projected spend from the Government that we used at the beginning of our campaign.


When do we update the website?

We update the website annually following the publication of “Schools block funding allocations” – this is the public dataset we require to calculate our figures. It tells us how much funding schools received for that academic year.

This data is normally released by the Department for Education in the autumn. If the Government releases the data in a timely fashion, we are able to update the website around Christmas each year.

But this year the Government delayed publication by two months without explanation. As a result this delayed our website update to March 2019.


Why can’t I find my school?

There are certain funding streams for which data isn’t available from the Government at an individual school level. For this reason, we have not included these schools in our calculations.

They are:

  1. Special schools
  2. Independent schools
  3. New schools

Our Calculations

In past releases the figures we used for school spending included the Government’s stated expectations for future spending in schools up to 2018/19. We compared that with the baseline of Schools Block funding in 2015/16. With this release we have instead used the ACTUAL level of funding that schools have received right up to 2018/19. In most cases schools have received LESS than the Government’s expectations in 2015.


Data Used: School Funding

We have been criticised by the Department for Education for looking solely at Schools Block funding, which it argues does not cover all school funding. So in this release, we  have included all of the following funding streams:

  1. Schools Block allocations (which for 2018/19 also includes the new Teacher Pay Grant)
  2. Pupil Premium allocations
  3. 16 to 19 allocations

Again, we have compared these figures with the money allocated in 2015/16. None of these funding streams have kept pace with school costs, so all of them show cuts compared with 2015/16. Therefore, this release of the figures covers:

  • ALL funding for secondary schools except the High Needs funding that funds individual EHCPs and statements. This funding stream has also not kept pace with demand[1]
  • ALL funding for Primary schools except that Primaries with nurseries also receive Early Years funding for their two- and three-year olds. The Government do not release individual school allocations for Early Years funding, so we have not been able to include it. This funding does not, however, even cover the costs of educating those students, according to head teachers with nursery classes[2]

It is important to note that we have excluded (the small number of schools) that were growing in 2015/16. We have done this because the money for additional pupils joining the school in September would (falsely) inflate their per pupil funding figures. We could have made allowance for those additional students however adding such a calculation would then make our calculations more complicated to follow.  Those schools will have faced the same funding pressures as other schools.


Data Exclusions

We used publicly available school level data to make the calculations for schools. This has the advantage that it provides certainty on the accuracy, but it results in excluding some funding.


High Needs Funding

This part funds the education, health and care (EHC) plans and statements for students at the school. Schools receive an allocation for general special education needs provision as part of the Schools Block. In total there were 119,815 pupils with an EHC plan or a statement in mainstream schools in 2018/19. Because of the relatively small number of pupils and potentially large individual allocation, it is difficult to see trends in funding on a school-by-school basis, local authority averages are more appropriate.


Early Years Funding

This covers the provision of:

  • the 15 hours entitlement for disadvantaged two year olds
  • the universal 15 hours entitlement for all three and four year olds
  • the additional 15 hours entitlement for eligible working parents of three and four
  • the Early Years Pupil Premium
  • the Disability Access Fund
  • Maintained Nursery School supplementary funding

The allocations are not provided at school level. Many primary schools have nurseries and so this is an important revenue stream. The Maintained Nursery Schools supplementary fund provides 31% of the total funding for these schools and so it is vital to their continued existence. There are no plans to continue the fund beyond April 2020[3].

Service Child Pupil Premium, Pupil Premium Plus for Looked After Children, and Pupil Premium Plus for Post-LAC.

These allocations are not published for individual schools because they are allocated to a small number of pupils and publishing school level data would jeopardise the privacy of the pupils. In total they cover 181,806 pupils for 2018/19 and the allocations amounted to £265,649,133 for 2018/19, less than 1% of the Dedicated Schools Grant.

Central Services Schools Block

This funds services provided by local authorities to schools, services include behaviour support, school improvement and assessment management. It replaces the Education Services Grant (ESG) that was paid to local authorities for maintained schools and directly to academies. In 2014/15 the ESG was £1.02bn[4]. The value of the Central Services Schools Block is £469m[5] for 2018/19.

Data Used: School Costs

In order to present these figures on a real terms basis, we have again adjusted cash figures to reflect the impact of inflation and other cost increases.  We now have much more information about actual changes to school costs over this period. So, in this release, we have updated the National Audit Office’s school costs index[6] by taking account of actual pay rises and inflation for the period 2015/16 to 2018/19 using the Department for Education’s latest figures[7] and used that to derive our figures for increases in school costs. These figures for ACTUAL increases in school costs are GREATER than the estimates derived from the GDP deflator forecasts.

Calculating School by School Figures

Funding included in the school-by-school figures:


Funding for primary schools:

Funding for secondary schools:

Pupil numbers for primary schools:

Pupil numbers for secondary schools with a sixth form:

From this we calculated per pupil funding for 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.

We converted them into 2018/19 prices using the school costs index above. We then calculated the change in per pupil funding in real terms using 2015/16 as a baseline.

To calculate the shortfall in school income we found the amount necessary to restore the per pupil funding in real terms to its level in 2015/16.

Shortfall in funding 2018/19 = ( Per pupil funding 2015/16 – Per pupil funding 2018/19 ) × Pupil numbers 2018/19

The data is available here.

Andrew Baisley
22nd March 2019