Analysis show what party pledges would mean for every school in England
Meredith Jones Russell
Thursday, December 5, 2019
The School Cuts coalition has launched a map showing what the leading parties’ manifestos would mean for every school in England.
The relaunched School Cuts website features an interactive map which shows the impact of changes to funding since 2015, when cuts to schools’ core budgets began, as well as projections of how schools would be affected by an incoming Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat government in the next financial year based on their manifesto promises.
The School Cuts campaign is organised by the National Education Union (NEU), the ASCL (The Association of School & College Leaders), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the GMB, Unison, and Unite.
The party's manifesto confirms previously committed funding through to 2022/23 only. Schools will have £2bn less spending power in 2020/21 than they did in 2015/16. There is no money committed for 2023/24 and beyond, which will likely result in a funding gap of at least £1.1bn in 2023/24 if they intend to only increase spending in line with inflation.
1 - Schools Block baseline includes the Central Services Schools Block, the Teachers' Pay Grant and the Pensions Grant. These elements have only been disaggregated since 2015/16.
Labour has pledged to reverse school cuts in its first year and introduce ‘a fairer funding formula that leaves no child worse off’. As a result, schools will have £1.4bn more spending power in 2020/21 than they did in 2015/16. Funding will be £3.2bn higher than the 2015/16 baseline in 2023/24.
The party has promised to restore school funding to the 2015/16 per-pupil baseline in real terms. Schools will have the same real-terms spending power in 2020/21 as they did in 2015/16. However, the manifesto does not address historic underfunding prior to 2015/16.
The website also provides localised breakdowns of proposed school budgets under each of the main parties according to postcode.
Analysis by School Cuts has also found that:
- Under Conservative proposals, just 18 out of 533 constituencies will see per-pupil funding above its 2015 level by April 2020 in real terms.
- Under Labour’s manifesto, every constituency will see a real-terms rise.
- after all Conservative funding commitments and pledges are factored in, 83 per cent of schools will be dealing with a reduced budget in April 2020 compared to 2015.
- There are 420,000 more pupils but 3,500 fewer teachers than in 2015.
- The Government has missed its teacher training targets for seven consecutive years.
- Almost one million children in England are in classes of 31 or more – a 20 per cent rise since 2015.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of NEU, said, ‘After nine years of disruption, short-sighted neglect and persistent underfunding, England’s schools need a change. Today’s relaunch of School Cuts makes the choice very clear for every parent, teacher, head teacher and member of school staff. With our interactive map, they can see immediately the benefit or risk for their school according to whom they vote for. Education was a vital issue in the 2017 election and is even more so in 2020. This election is about so much more than Brexit. If you value education, you must vote for education.’
Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said, ‘Our analysis is aimed at giving the public an unvarnished, hype-free assessment of what the spending commitments of the major national political parties mean for our schools. We are a politically impartial association and it is not up to us to tell people how they should vote. But they should have the facts about how the pledges add up on such an important matter as the future of our education system – and these are the facts.’
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, added, ‘There are clear differences between the main parties when it comes to education funding. Labour are pledging the most, the Conservatives the least. This is just a fact. Our education system needs sufficient funds to support the needs of all learners, and whilst that may amount to billions, the implications of underfunding will cost billions more in lost opportunities and productivity. No party should shy away from providing what is required, nor should they claim more ‘generosity’ than is really the case. When voters enter the polling booth next week we hope they will all have education at the front of their minds.’
- The School Cuts website can be accessed here