An increasing number of local authority schools in England are spending more than they get from the government to educate our children, and UNISON has called on the government to “stop denying the fact” and “give more money to schools now”.
A new report from the Education Policy Institute published today shows that, in 2016-17 alone, more than 60% of local authority maintained primary schools and over two thirds of secondary schools spent more than their income.
The report comes in the same week that the national statistics watchdog forced education secretary Damian Hinds to back down and admit that school funding is not increasing, as the government had claimed.
Instead, inflation and increasing staff costs is more strains on school budgets.
UNISON head of education Jon Richards warned the government that it “can’t keep hiding behind its claim that it is spending more than ever.”
He pointed out that “funding is based on pupil numbers and there are more of them than ever before” – so the amount of money available to schools for each pupil is going down, even if the global figure is higher than previous years.
The EPI report, School funding pressures in England, also showed that, when it came to the end-of-year balance sheet, 26.1% of secondary schools and 7.1% of primary schools recorded a deficit rather than surplus.
The proportion of secondary schools carrying forward deficits has nearly trebled in four years and the average size of schools’ overall deficits is growing too: up to £375,000 for secondary schools and £108,000 for primaries.
These figures are only for schools maintained directly by their local authority and don’t include academies. But those face the same pressures.
The report “confirms all that the education unions have been saying about the crisis in school funding,” said Mr Richards. “The problem is that funding is not keeping up with costs. We are seeing job cuts, outsourcing and attempts to downgrade staff.
“This is not sustainable and, without increased funding, the quality of education and support to our children and young people will suffer.
“The government can’t keep denying the facts it must act and give more money to schools now.”