Per-pupil funding to fall by £147 in real-terms, unions forecast

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Per-pupil funding will be lower in real-terms in 2023/24 for 90% of schools when compared to the current academic year.

The forecast has been made after the education union led School Cuts website updated its projections based on mainstream funding streams and analysis of the cost pressures facing schools, including record levels of inflation.

The new projections show that per-pupil funding is to fall in real-terms by an average of £147 between now and next September.

The website, first created in 2016 in anticipation of the 2017 General Election, has been relaunched ahead of chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s comprehensive autumn budget statement due on November 17.

The site is run by the National Education Union (NEU) and is backed by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), and Parentkind.

The updated projections show that of 20,094 schools with comparable data 18,060 (90%) will see lower per-pupil funding in real terms in 2023/24 than in this current academic year; 12,952 (68%) will have lower per-pupil funding in real-terms than in 2015/16.

It says that real-terms per-pupil funding will be cut on average from £6,028 this year to £5,881 next year (a fall of £147), equating to a fall in schools’ spending power of £1bn.

Schools can use the website by entering their postcode to see the projected impact for their overall budget in 2023/24 as well as their per-pupil funding levels.

Those using the website are invited to sign an open letter to prime minister Rishi Sunak. The letter calls for three actions:

  • Reverse the cuts facing schools next year.
  • Ensure deserved pay-awards for school staff are fully funded.
  • Keep your promise to restore per-pupil funding to 2010 levels in real-terms.

The letter states: “The government will spend £324 less per pupil in 2023 than in 2015 in real-terms. Teachers have suffered real-terms pay cuts in the same period.

“The most disadvantaged have borne the worst of these cuts. Since 2015, it’s been nursery schools, provision for children with SEND, and schools serving the poorest that have been the hardest hit.

“School communities shouldn’t be asked to foot the bill for the government’s reckless handling of the economy.”

Kevin Courtney, the NEU’s joint general secretary, said: “We demand proper school funding which at least keeps pace with inflation, which returns funding to at least 2010 levels and which allows teachers and support staff to have fully funded pay rises which at least keep pace with inflation.”

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