Commenting on the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ Annual Report on Education Spending in England: 2023, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“This is a damning indictment of the Government’s failure to invest in education since 2010.
“While the Prime Minister speaks regularly of wanting to create a world class education system, the policies of his Government are resulting in the exact opposite. There is no end in sight for the perilous funding situation in our schools, sixth form colleges and early years education. This is having a serious impact on the education of children and young people and, as the IFS report shows, on those who are the most disadvantaged.
“School costs have grown faster than inflation over the period, and education spending has fallen sharply as a percentage of GDP. The National Funding Formula and Minimum Per Pupil levels have siphoned money away from the areas in greatest need meaning the poorest bear the greatest burden.
“Persistent underfunding has led to deep and lasting effects on the education sector. Class sizes are at record levels - primary class sizes are the highest in Europe and secondary class sizes are the highest since records began more than 40 years ago. All children deserve to be taught in classes of fewer than 30 led by a qualified teacher, but this is simply not being addressed. Nor is the recruitment and retention crisis, when the government cannot even meet its own targets in teacher training. No wonder teachers are leaving the profession in high numbers.
“2024-25 promises more of the same. Core school funding will rise by only 1.9% on average. This is well short of expected increases in school costs and below Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts for inflation. The NEU estimates that 92% of schools will be unable to cope with cost increases in 2024-25 without making cuts to education provision. This means 99% of secondary schools and 91% of primary schools will need to make cuts to survive.
“The Chancellor made no effort to address any of this in his recent Autumn Statement. Heads cannot hope to keep pace with rising costs and are being left to muddle through once more. It is clear that an increase in school funding of £1.7bn in 2024-25 is needed in order to protect provision in schools and colleges, and to finally address the recruitment and retention crisis. But this will only be a sticking plaster for the deeper problems created on this Government’s watch.”