Tuesday 3 January 2017

WARNING: School funding cuts are even worse than predicted

Today's release from the NUT Press Office, produced jointly with the ATL, is of such significance that I am posting it in full below.

The headline messages are clear:
a) School funding cuts are even worse than the NUT predicted.
b) Children in families that are ‘just about managing’ will be hit hardest as school budgets plummet.

The only additional point I would make, in my capacity as NUT London Regional Secretary, is that:
c)  As we predicted, the capital's schools will be particuarly badly hit. Everyone acknowledges that London is an educational success story - so why slash the funding that helped drive that educational success?

Fig 18. from the DfE's Schools NFF stage 2 consultation document - although DfE figs. are for 2018/19, not 2019/20 - see methodology information below
Today's NUT Press Release in full: 

The cuts to funding for schools in England will be worse than expected and hit hardest the children in families that are ‘just about managing’, according to the NUT and ATL.

In November 2016, the NUT and ATL predicted, when they launched the Schools Cuts website, that the Government’s long-awaited new national funding formula (NFF) would be a disaster for schools, given the real terms cuts currently being imposed. (See editor's note 1 below)

The Department for Education (DfE) said the website was ‘scaremongering’. But the predictions by NUT and ATL have proved to be less severe than the reality. Between now and 2019/20:
  • We predicted that overall schools’ funding would be cut by £2.5bn. Last week, the National Audit Office (NAO) said it was being cut by £3bn. 
  • We said funding would be cut for every pupil in 92% of England’s schools. On the basis of DfE figures released for the National Funding Formula (NFF) consultation, this will be the case for 98% of England’s schools.  
  • We said secondary school pupils stood to lose £365 a year over this Parliament (between 2015/16 and 2019/20), when actually it will be £477. Primary pupils will lose £339. 
These figures are based on information for 19,719 schools, whose data was published as part of the NFF consultation and included in the 2015/16 schools block allocation dataset. We have used this in combination with the NAO estimate for schools-specific inflation, which will see costs increase by 8.7% between 2015/16 and 2019/2020. (see editor's note 2 below) 

From page 15 of the NAO's Full Report

The picture keeps getting bleaker. Despite claims that the Government is addressing an ‘historic injustice’, the schools which have a high percentage of children from families who are ‘just about managing’ (JAMs) – and who are supposedly a priority for the Prime Minister – will be worse off. (see editor's note 3 below)

Primary pupils
  • Cut for every pupil between 2015/16 and 2019/20
  • Schools with the least number of JAMs: £297 a year
  • Schools with the most number of JAMs: £447 a year
Secondary pupils
  • Cut for every pupil between 2015/16 and 2019/20
  • Schools with the least JAMs: £489 a year
  • Schools with the most JAMs: £658 a year 

Despite the Conservative Party manifesto saying there will be a real-terms increase in the schools’ budget:
  • 87% of schools will have real terms cuts in Government funding between 2015/16 – 2019/20
  • 98% of schools will have a loss in funding for every pupil between 2015/16 – 2019/20
  • (The number of pupils is projected to rise by 8% between 2015/16 and 2019/20)

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:These are shocking figures that will create despair in schools up and down the country. Far from being the levelling up of funding that councils and heads have demanded, the Government is levelling down and schools across the country face real terms cuts in this Parliament. It is impossible to deliver an effective education to pupils if there is no money for staff, buildings, resources, materials, activities or a full subject choice. Parents and school governors should unite with teachers in demanding the Government fund our education properly. This is no way to run an education system. More money needs to be given to our schools to give the country an education system it can be proud of.”

Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said:
All the Government’s warm words about protecting the poorest children look meaningless. Many schools are already struggling to make ends meet and are desperately trying to raise money from parents for school books and IT. These funding cuts will make the situation even more desperate. If the Government doesn’t increase the overall amount of funding for schools, a generation of children will have a severely restricted education with nothing beyond the basic curriculum and thousands of school staff will lose their jobs. Parents and pupils will be furious that Government missed the opportunity with the new National Funding Formula to properly fund all schools and every child’s education.” 

Editor's notes

1) The http://www.schoolcuts.org.uk website has been updated to reflect the DfE’s newly released figures.

2) The National Funding Formula second stage consultation is available here. The accompanying data showing the impact on schools is here. The block allocation page is here and dataset here. The NAO’s inflation forecast is here (the graph posted above is on p.15).

3) The DfE published the percentage of pupils who have received free school meals at some point in the last six years as “Free School Meals Ever 6”. In the same spreadsheet they also published the number of pupils currently receiving free school meals. Our metric for JAMs at a school is the number of pupils who are currently not receiving free school meals but have done at some point in the last six years. We then put the schools in 10 groups based on the percentage of JAMs on the school register, and found funding averages for each group.

Methodology for today’s figures

We used published Department for Education data to calculate cuts to England’s primary and secondary schools over this Parliament, 2015 – 2020.

Using the 2015/16 funding as the baseline, we calculated the impact of the cash freeze on the amount of funding for each pupil, the proposed cut to the Education Services Grant and the proposed introduction of a National Funding Formula.

The calculations were made using the following evidence:

  • That the national funding formula due to be introduced in April 2018 will be that proposed by the Secretary of State on Wednesday 14 December 2016.
  • That inflation for schools will amount to 8.7% over the lifetime of this Parliament. This figure is in “Financial sustainability of schools” published by the National Audit Office on 14 December 2016.
  • That the Government will cut the Education Services Grant (ESG) by 75%, as George Osborne announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement. We have only measured the ESG cut to academy and free school budgets. For all other schools, the ESG goes to the local authority to fund services for schools. These services are now being cut.
Calculating school funding for 2019/20
The Government published figures for school budgets for the first year of the introduction of the National Funding Formula (2018/19) and when the NFF is fully bedded in. We calculated the amount of funding for schools for 2019/20, by capping the maximum increase from 2018/19 to 2019/20 at 2.5% as stated in the ministerial statement.

The figures are in 2016/17 prices.

Data sources
Schools block funding 2015-16

Schools block funding 2016-17

Schools National Funding Formula Stage 2 consultation

Pupil census 2014-15

Financial sustainability of schools, National Audit Office

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