A ‘scandalous’ legacy: Schools reel as funding falls short

Despite recent promises, the legacy of a Conservative government after 15 years in office looks set to be a real-terms decline in school funding. Pete Henshaw reports

Soaring inflation and “unexpectedly high cost pressures” for schools look set to end any hopes of funding being restored to 2010 levels.

The 2019 and 2021 Spending Reviews brought with them extra funding for the schools budget and an explicit government promise to restore real-terms funding to 2010 levels by 2024/25 – the end of the current Parliament.

As politicians’ promises go, many agreed it was pretty feeble – but now the range of cost pressures facing schools has put paid to even this modest pledge, this according to an analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (Sibieta, 2022).

School leaders are not impressed. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), has been scathing: “The government’s boast last year that it had restored school funding to 2010 levels was a feeble one, admitting a lost decade of no investment in education at all. It is now clear that even that meagre claim no longer holds true. For there now to be a real-terms decrease is scandalous.”

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