School Funding Crisis: Is It A Myth?
Local MPs have begun to assert that claims made about our schools’ funding crisis are inaccurate and refer to ‘myths’ being created (see Myth Busting: School Funding by Tim Loughton MP).
However, independent analysis does not support this view.
It is important that parents and our community have fair and accurate information about local schools, their funding and levels of staffing. In this article, we address each 'myth' in turn.
Myth 1: The Government is cutting school funding
No. We are putting more money into our schools than ever before.
More money is going into schools but it is unhelpful for the government to overlook key facts:
Inflation is running at 3%
Since 2010 537,885 more pupils have joined state schools (DfE source SFR29/0617)
Schools are facing huge cost increases in areas such as National Insurance Contributions, the Apprenticeship Levy and also a reduction in funding grants.
Myth 2: The Government is cutting school funding in real terms
No. We’ve protected the core schools budget in real terms since 2010, and as confirmed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, our additional £1.3 billion investment means we are maintaining per pupil funding in real terms to 2020.
The Government has confirmed that the £1.3 billion investment into schools was not new money, but came from the current budget from the Department for Education.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed that in real terms school funding will decrease by 4.6% between 2015 and 2020. (Read: School funding in England will have fallen nearly 5% in real terms by 2019, says IFS)
In January 2018, the education secretary Damian Hinds was censured by parliament for misleading MPs about school funding. (Read: Damian Hinds censured by stats watchdog over school funding claims)
Myth 3: The Government is taking free school meals away from disadvantaged children
No. Both the IFS and Channel 4 Fact Check have confirmed that no child who currently receives a free school meal will lose their entitlement once the rollout of Universal Credit is complete.
WorthLess? have never made any such claim either verbally or in writing at any time.
The independent educational charity, The Sutton Trust does say, however, that “30% of Headteachers now use Pupil Premium (FSM) funding to “prop up” their school budgets.”
Myth 4: There is a teacher recruitment crisis
No. There are 15,500 more teachers in our schools than in 2010, and our teachers are more qualified than ever. Over 27,000 people started a postgraduate teacher training course in England this year.
We are surprised that the Treasury is providing inaccurate data. Using the Government’s own statistics (Statistical First Release) the following figures state details of teacher supply accurately:
In 2010 there were 448,100 (FTE) teachers.
In 2016 (the most recent statistics) there were 457,300 – an increase of 9,200.
The number of teachers has increased by 9,200, while at the same time and over the same period there has been an increase of 443,525 pupils in state schools.
A simple calculation dividing the total number of teachers by the total number of pupils shows that since 2010 the ratio of pupils to teachers has got significantly worse: 16.41 in 2010 vs 17.1 in 2016.
Myth 5: The Government doesn’t care about children studying arts subjects
No. We introduced the English Baccalaureate to help more children establish a solid academic foundation. It ensures children study the core subjects – such as English, Maths and the Science
A national survey suggests that chronic school funding shortages are having a detrimental impact upon arts provision in our schools. (Read: Creative subjects being squeezed, schools tell BBC)
This is what we are worried about:
Inadequate funding across all West Sussex schools.
Not enough money for children with Special Educational Needs and Additional Needs.
Social Mobility vs School Funding
There are 154 local authorities ranked 1 (most per pupil funding) to 154 (worst per pupil funding).
The mobility index ranges from 1 (best) to 324 (worst) in terms of the Social Mobility Commissions ranking system.
Under the new National Funding Formula, West Sussex will receive £12.8 million. West Sussex has 104,000 pupils so our per pupil uplift is £12.8 million divided by 104,000 = £123 per pupil.
In 2018 West Sussex pupils will receive £423 million in total. Pupils in Hackney will receive £263 million more
Over a five year span – the lifetime of secondary school placement – pupils in Hackney will receive £1.31 billion more than their counterparts in West Sussex.
All of the funding differences above exclude the additional funding that Pupil Premium provides.
The examples below show the differences that our schools are facing. This is replicated across West Sussex. The funding differences are far, far too big.
Annemarie Morris, Conservative MP for Newton Abbott said, in February 2018:
“The new formula continues unfair allocations between the highest and lowest funded authorities and does not address the core concerns of schools relating to cost pressures and special educational needs provision. The reformed funding formula proposals do not provide the change that is so desperately needed”.