Secondary schools face sharpest cuts to funding since 1970s says thinktank

Secondary schools in England face the steepest cuts to funding since the 1970s, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that reveals differences in spending of nearly £20,000 per pupil during their time in the classroom.

The thinktank’s figures – which forecast a funding cut of 7% per pupil by 2020 – set off calls by teaching unions for the funding freeze to be relaxed, while opposition parties said the government should avoid diverting funds into converting all schools into academies as required by the latest education white paper.

“This backs up what our members have been saying. With flat cash education spending at a time of rising costs, school budgets are being pushed to breaking point,” said Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers.

The IFS researchers said that in real terms school budgets will still be about 50% higher than they were in 2001, before the last Labour government’s substantial investment in schools.

Lucy Powell, the shadow education secretary, said: “Parents will be very surprised to learn that schools’ budgets face real cuts after the prime minister personally promised to protect their budgets at the last election. These cuts will have a huge impact on standards and outcomes.

Secondary schools face sharpest cuts to funding since 1970s, says thinktank

“This government’s costly reorganisation of our schools system, forcing every primary and secondary school to become an academy by 2022, will remove even more money, time and effort away from where the focus in schools should be – on raising standards.”

A Conservative spokesperson responded: “Lucy Powell obviously can’t remember her party’s election pledge on school spending, which failed to take account of a rapid increase in pupil numbers, meaning they would have overseen a significant cut in the amount of money schools would have received per child.

“And the Labour party’s lack of financial credibility and economic illiteracy would have put funding for schools at risk.

“By contrast, despite taking the difficult decision to reduce the deficit and making savings across Whitehall, we have been able to protect the schools budget in real terms, so that as pupil numbers increase, so too will the amount of money in our schools.”

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