83% of schools in England will have less money next year than in 2015

School funding in England is in crisis. There is no denying the numbers. But how did we get here? And what is the result of this crisis?

This analysis shows that most schools will have seen real-terms cuts in school funding per pupil between 2015 and 2020 once you account for confirmed school funding allocations and the likely costs faced by schools.

– Luke Sibieta of the Institute for Fiscal Studies
(Source The Guardian)

The Government’s promises have fallen short

Since 2015 every Prime Minister has claimed to be putting more money into schools than ever before. But the hard truth is that nearly all schools in England are worse off now than 5 years ago.

  • In 2015, David Cameron promised that his Government would continue to protect school funding. 
  • During the 2017 election, Theresa May promised to spend £4bn more. 
  • In 2019, Boris Johnson promised to level up school funding and ensure there are no more winners and losers. 

All of which sounds like schools are doing really well. But these promises are deliberately misleading.

In reality most schools have been dealing with cuts for the last 4 years. 

That’s why we’ve worked out the numbers for every school in the country so that parents can see how their children will be impacted.

How does school funding work? 

To understand why school funding is in crisis, it’s important to understand how school funding works. 

Most important is the total amount of money is in the pot, followed by how that money gets distributed. 

The Secretary of State for Education, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister decide the national schools budget – which is the amount of funding each local authority gets for schools.

Once this set, the local schools forum (made up of heads and Governors) in each area divvies up the money amongst all the schools, including academies and free schools. This is known as the schools block.

There are also separate funds for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), sixth formers, children in early years and the pupil premium – because they require different funding for the resources and staff they need. 

But the size of these budgets has an impact on all children. Schools have a duty to meet the needs of every child. 

So what are the figures really? 

Like his predecessors, Theresa May and David Cameron, Prime Minister Johnson has promised to “level up” school funding across the country.

But even if you fast-forward to the highest point in the Prime Minister’s plan, in three years’ time, our schools will still be reeling from a £1.3bn funding shortfall in 2022/23 compared with 2015/16 — the biggest in a generation. 

The Government needs to recognise the reality on the ground and act. 

When you account for rising school costs and the number of pupils the budget has to cover, the numbers just don’t add up.  

  • Since 2015 the average amount spent on a pupil has fallen from £5,000 a year to just under £4,700. Schools need an extra £2.4bn a year to put that right. 
  • 83% of schools in England will lose out next year compared with 2015.
  • Schools in England will be £2bn poorer in 2020 than in 2015.

So what does this mean for children? 

The impact of these funding cuts are dire. Schools are at breaking point. Based on the Government’s own figures, England’s primary school children are taught in the largest classes since the year 2000.

That makes them the biggest in the developed world. 

The picture in secondary schools is even worse, the number of children taught in classes over 30 is at its highest since 1981 and class sizes are rising at their fastest ever rate.

There are more pupils than in 2015 but 3,500 fewer teachers. More children per teacher means less attention and individual support for each child. 

Funding cuts are reducing curriculums – subjects like music, languages, art and design are being cut as a result of the pressure. 

And in the worst hit schools, even the most basic provision is on the line. There are now dozens of schools that are only open for four and a half days a week. 

Headteachers know these cuts aren’t just damaging. They risk making school budgets completely unviable. 

Teachers and support staff are working longer hours, under more pressure, and plugging the gaps in funding out of their own pocket to mitigate the impact on children’s education.

That’s why thousands of people all over the country are working hard to pressure every candidate to commit to fighting for adequate funding for every school – regardless of political allegiance. 

Together we are fighting to protect every child’s right to a decent education.

Here’s what can you do right now to help your school:

  1. Join the Stop School Cuts campaign
  2. Tell every parent and teacher you know
  3. Order your election toolkit and get active in your community