The amount schools are spending in real terms on their pupils has been cut by 8% since 2010, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).
The IFS says that with rising pupil numbers and reductions to sixth form funding – as well as less money being given to local authorities – means that school spending has seen a real term reduction.
The news has been welcomed by headteachers who say that the findings disprove the government’s ‘rhetoric’ about schools enjoying record funding levels.
However, the Department for Education has reiterated that funding for schools will be at the highest ever level by 2020 when it will reach £33.5 billion.
Despite this, school leaders say that dwindling budgets have led them to reduce staff numbers and ask parents for financial help.
Total funding per pupil has been reduced in England
Now the IFS’s research proves that the total funding per pupil has been reduced in England.
Researchers say that efforts to protect school budgets since 2010 have been focused on helping youngsters to the age of 16 but this is at the expense of funding sixth form students and local authorities.
They say that funding for sixth forms has been reduced by 25% while financial support for local authorities has dropped by 55%.
They also point out that the core budget between 2015 and 2017 for those aged up to 16 has also fallen by 4%.
And with the sharp rise in pupil numbers taken into account, there’s been an 8% overall reduction in the cash being spent on every pupil from 2010 to this year.
The IFS study also compares school funding between those in England and Wales and says that per pupil funding has dropped more sharply in England because of surging student numbers.
Per-pupil funding budget has fallen since 2010
In Wales, the per-pupil funding budget has fallen since 2010 by 5%.
A spokesman for the IFS said: “Per-pupil spending has dropped by more in England and Wales and is eliminating the gap in spending between the two countries.”
The research has been published as schools say they are predicting further financial pressures, particularly with the teacher’s pay round expected soon.
The ASCL headteachers’ union leader, Geoff Barton, has written to the education secretary and warned that unless extra funding is provided for teachers pay, it could leave schools insolvent.
In a bid to tackle the teacher shortage, it’s being predicted that an above inflation pay rise of 3.5% should be expected.
Mr Barton said: “Despite repeated insistence by the government it is spending a record amount on education, the reality is that funding has been cut significantly per-pupil in real terms.”
‘Scale of cuts is a devastating indictment’
He added: “The scale of cuts is a devastating indictment of the government’s commitment to education and it’s putting educational standards in jeopardy.”
He added that many schools are now facing no choice but to reduce what they can offer youngsters and there is a ‘growing crisis’ developing.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “School funding is at its highest ever in England and will rise to £43.5 billion by 2020. An analysis from the IFS shows that real terms funding per-pupil for those who are aged between five and 16 in England will be more than 50% higher in 2020 than in 2000.
“We’ve protected also base rate funding for 16 to 19-year-olds until 2020 which is worth £4,000 per student.”