Schools’ funding increase will not cover inflationary costs, headteachers say

·3-min read

Schools’ core funding is set to increase next year, but teachers’ leaders and heads have warned the increases will not account for the rising costs schools are facing.

Schools minister Will Quince has announced that core schools funding will increase by £1.5 billion in 2023/24 compared to the previous year, which he said came on top of a £4 billion increase in 2022/23.

Headteachers’ leaders said the increase in the funding settlement does not take into account the “huge inflationary pressures” schools are under, with CPI inflation hitting a 40-year record of 9.1% in May and expected to reach as high as 11% later this year.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that while heads welcomed the settlement, it came after “years of real-terms cuts”, while analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies had shown that school funding for pupil in 2024 would be at around the same level as in 2010.

Colleges will receive 10% less than in 2010, and sixth forms 23% less, he said.

Mr Barton added: “The squeeze on education funding over the past decade has resulted in schools and colleges having to make very significant cutbacks to provision.”

“Furthermore, the settlement for 2023/24 does not remotely take into account the huge inflationary pressures which schools and colleges are now experiencing.”

There are reports of schools’ energy bills rocketing by 300% or more, he said, while many also face Covid cost pressures after being forced to use supply teachers to cover absences.

“They also face the prospect of having to absorb the cost of pay awards from existing budgets. It is increasingly inevitable that many will have to make further cutbacks to provision.”

“The Government has short changed education for many years and, unfortunately, that has left the sector in a very difficult financial situation.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: “This announcement is very damaging to our children’s education as it looks like this Government is returning to the bad days of austerity and away from any sense of levelling up.”

He said the £1.5 billion increase to school funding “might have looked good” when first announced in the 2021 spending review but now follows a surge in inflation, meaning it is a “big real-terms cut for education spending”.

“Over half of schools will only receive a 0.5% per pupil increase – perhaps as much as 9% behind inflation,” he said.

He said 22% of schools are funded at the minimum funding level and a further 31% at the rate set by the funding floor.

“Even the schools getting 2.4% will be well behind inflation. This will compromise schools’ efforts to address their pupils’ wellbeing and Covid recovery needs.

“The Government needs to recognise the changed circumstances since the 2021 spending review and put more money into our children’s futures.

“The NEU will reach out to parents, school governors and other unions to challenge this proposed funding settlement. It simply doesn’t meet the needs of our children or our schools.”

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