Surging costs mean the government is “no longer on track” to restore England’s school spending per pupil to 2010 levels in real terms by the end of this parliament, a leading think-tank warned on Tuesday.
A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated that by 2024-25, school spending per pupil in England would be 3 per cent lower than in 2010.
This is because the growth in funding will from next year fall below the pace of expansion in school costs, reducing school budgets’ purchasing power.
The IFS report found that inflation-adjusted school spending per pupil fell 9 per cent between 2009-10 and 2019-20. In last year’s spending review, the government allocated extra funding to schools, saying it would restore spending per pupil to 2010 levels in real terms by the end of the current parliament in 2024-25.
At present, however, spending plans for future years are likely to be insufficient to meet the cost pressures facing schools. As a result, “the government is no longer on track to deliver on this objective”, the report said.
Many factors are adding to the costs that schools face, including increases in pay for teachers and support staff and food and energy prices.
Starting salaries for teachers outside London will from September rise 9 per cent to £28,000, marking a step towards the government’s manifesto commitment of starting salaries of £30,000 by 2022-23. Most teachers, who are at or towards the upper end of pay scales, will at the same time receive salary rises of 5 per cent.
However, with consumer prices rising at a 40-year high of 9.4 per cent and following pay freezes, inflation-adjusted salaries for most teachers will be about 12 per cent lower in real terms this year than in 2010.
Catering and energy will also “weigh extremely heavily” on school budgets, according to the report, as they account for about a quarter of schools’ non-staff costs and are subject to particularly fast price growth rates.
Luke Sibieta, IFS…
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