Per pupil spending ‘to fall by 8%’

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Image captionSchools face increasing costs tied to pensions, pay and national insurance

Spending per pupil in schools in England is likely to fall by 8% in real terms over the next five years, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warns.

It argues that school funding levels will feel quite different in the next five years from the previous five.

Schools are set to face real-terms reductions in spending per pupil for first time since the 1990s, it adds.

The report, however, says schools have been protected in recent years compared with other government departments.

‘Pressures’

Although there will be similar growth in nominal spending to that in the last Parliament, resources will shrink because of rising costs and increasing pupil numbers, it says.

Key cost increases include:

  • the average public-sector pay settlement of 1% per year
  • a rise in National Insurance contributions from April 2016
  • an increase in employer pension contributions

“Taking these together with pressures on other costs, we forecast that school spending per pupil is likely to fall by around 8% in real terms [based on a school-specific measure of inflation] between 2014-15 and 2019-20,” the report says.

‘Fairer funding’

But a spokesman for the Department for Education said: “”We are protecting the schools budget, which will rise as pupil numbers increase and have made significant progress towards fairer funding for schools.

“This government is committed to making sure schools are funded fairly so all pupils have access to a good education – a key part of our core mission to raise standards across the country and make sure every child reaches their full potential.”

The National Union of Teacher said many schools and colleges were already struggling.

Deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “At a time when we face major problems with teacher supply, IFS notes that the government’s pay cap of 1% could make recruitment and retention more difficult.

“With pupil numbers rocketing, we need to recruit more teachers just to stand still and we need to invest in capital funding to provide the new places needed.”

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