Four in five schools worse off under government spending plans

Education unions reveal schools worse off than in 2015

New figures, released today by the School Cuts coalition, reveal that four in five of England’s schools will be worse off next year than they were in 2015.

Despite additional funding announced by the government in August, our analysis shows that over 80% of schools – around 16,000 – will still have less money per pupil in 2020 in real terms than they did when the cuts began to bite in 2015.

After relentless campaigning by head teachers, school staff and parents, the government finally accepted that schools have suffered billions in funding cuts. Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised school funding would be “levelled up across the entire country” and that there would be “no winners or losers”.

This is not the case.

New analysis by the School Cuts coalition (attd.) paints a very different picture.

  • The allocation to schools in 2020/21 still needs £2.5bn to reverse the cuts which have taken place since 2015.
  • This means that children in almost all local authorities in England are still losing out.
  • Around one third of all schools will see real-terms cuts to their budgets next year because school costs are greater than inflation.
  • Schools with the highest levels of deprivation are the worst affected.
  • Sixth form and college students continue to be hard hit. Our analysis shows there will still be a shortfall of £1.1bn next year in the funding required to reverse devastating cuts in 16-19 education.
  • Even after an additional £700m, the High Needs Block will still be £1.5bn short of what is needed to support the most vulnerable children and young people in the education system.

The School Cuts coalition is calling on the government to honour its promise to give schools the funding they need and to reverse in full the cuts made since 2015. The coalition will relaunch its website with updated school-by-school figures as soon as the Government releases next year’s funding allocations.

Jon Richards, Head of Education, UNISON,said: “Schools are so cash-starved that staff are buying equipment like pens and stationery with their own money. Valuable teaching assistants are also being axed by schools as they struggle to balance budgets. The government keeps promising resources but schools need money now.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders, said: “After years of denying that there is a school funding crisis the government has finally done the right thing by investing desperately needed extra money into our beleaguered education system. But analysis by the School Cuts coalition shows the additional funding is not enough to repair the damage that has been done to our schools and colleges and that further investment is required. We are not being churlish, we are just stating the facts. The funding crisis is not over.” 

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, National Education Union, said: “For years, our heads, teachers and school staff have done all they can to mitigate the impact on children. But the buck stops with the government. Prime Minister Johnson has made lots of empty promises on school funding – but his numbers don’t add up. The latest funding announcement falls well short of settling the shortfall for every child. And crucially it fails to reverse the cuts schools have suffered since 2015. It’s unthinkable that our schools have to go on like this – losing support staff, shedding subjects and cutting back on basic maintenance just to balance the books. We are calling on the Prime Minister to put the money where his mouth is and end the funding crisis in education once and for all.”

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers, said: “We’ve won the argument that only new money from the Treasury can solve the school funding crisis. The question now is: how much is enough? The additional funding announced by the government is very welcome and will go some way to restoring the real-terms cuts we’ve seen since 2010. But there are gaps. Early years, SEND and sixth form education are all short. And schools won’t receive a penny until next year. In the meantime, they are still at breaking point and struggling to make ends meet.”

Nadine Houghton, National Schools Officer, GMB, said: “School support staff have been greatly affected by schools funding cuts through redundancies and restructuring. Fewer support staff in schools means that teachers are less supported to teach, and children with the most challenging needs don’t get the help they need to thrive. We urgently need to reverse the cuts and begin to rebuild our education system so that every child can thrive.”

ASCL: Richard Bettsworth 07885 467344/ 0116 299 1122
GMB: 07958 15684­­­6
NAHT: Steven George, Head of Press & Media – 07970907730; Email:
NEU: Caroline Cowie – 0207 380 4706/07879 480 061
UNISON: Liz Chinchen – 0207 121 5463 / 07778 158175; Email:
UNITE: Alex Flynn – 0203 371 2066/ 07967 665 869; Email: