IFS: School pupil funding cuts 'deepest for 30 years'

Posted On: 
27th February 2017

The Government's cuts to school pupil funding will be the deepest for 30 years, a new analysis has found. 

School School pupils will get 6.5% less funding by 2020
PA Images

The Institute for Fiscal Studies also warned that, while early years funding was set for a significant increase, real-terms spending on school pupils would drop by 6.5% over the course of this parliament.

But funding for education for those over the age of 16 has fared worst over the past three decades, the IFS said, after growing more slowly in the 2000s than primary and secondary school spending and then being subject to 13% real-terms cuts since 2010.

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Per-pupil spending at primary and secondary schools currently stands at £4,900 and £6,300 respectively, approximately double the level of the mid-1990s.

The cuts in further education spending indicate Labour and Tory governments view it as a “low priority area”, report author Luke Sibieta said.

He said: “The last 30 years have seen huge changes in spending priorities in education. There is a strong case for the increased spending on early years’ education. The rationale for focussing cuts on 16-18 year olds and in further education is much less obvious.

“The actions – as opposed to the rhetoric – of both Labour and Conservative governments suggest that they are agreed this is a low priority area for spending. Why they think that is unclear”.

The Government, which is facing criticism from some Conservative backbenchers about plans to change the school funding formula, defended its record on education spending.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “School funding is now at its highest level on record at more than £40bn in 2016-17 and the IFS has shown that by 2020 per pupil spending in schools is set to be at least 70% higher in real terms than it was in 1990.

“We are transforming post-16 education and investing £7bn to ensure there is a place in education or training for every 16 to 19-year-old who wants one.”