The new academic year started with a bang following the government’s announcement that schools will receive an extra £2.6 billion in September 2020 and a three-year plan that would boost school funding by £7.1 billion by 2022-23.
Since then, however, number of responses have emerged which have dampened the initial enthusiasm and the sector has headed into the half-term break with further uncertainty (not helped, of course, by the bigger ‘Brexit bubble’):
• The Institute for Fiscal Studies released a report saying that, after inflation is taken into account, schools will only be getting an extra £4.3 billion per year in real terms by 2022-23 – leaving them in the same financial position as they were 13 years ago. This led Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, to comment that the report is a “sober assessment of the government’s hyped-up announcements over education funding”.
• Analysis from the School Cuts coalition suggests that four out of five schools will be worse off next year than they were in 2015. Despite extra funding being announced by the Department for Education, the group says the vast majority of schools will still be less well funded than they were four years ago. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, added that the analysis suggests that Boris Johnson is wrong to claim that government is now “levelling up” school funding across the country.
• A report by Forum Strategy consultancy and The Key school leaders’ information service highlighted how funding pressures are impacting on Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) leaders, with just 12% of respondents saying they were “not at all concerned” about the financial viability of their trust. More than one in five leaders of MATs are “extremely concerned” about their organisation’s financial viability – others were “somewhat concerned” (31%), “concerned” (34%) or “extremely concerned” (23%).