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Home Publications School Spending in England 2010–15

School Spending in England 2010–15

Journal article | Fiscal Studies, Volume 36, No. 3, September 2015

School spending in England has been relatively protected over the past five years, with day-to-day school spending per pupil rising by about 0.6 per cent in real terms. This contrasts with cuts to other areas of education spending and across other areas of government spending more generally. This real-terms increase has been delivered by an increase in funding going to the most disadvantaged pupils via the pupil premium. (Other types of funding were frozen in cash terms per pupil.) One of the consequences of this reform is that funding is increasingly concentrated on schools catering for the highest proportions of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is in contrast to school systems in some other countries (for example, the US), where resources tend to be more highly correlated with local property values. Looking forward, rising pupil numbers, together with reforms that will increase the cost of employing staff, will contribute to increasing school costs over the coming years, with school spending needing to increase by at least 20 per cent in cash terms just to keep funding per pupil constant in real terms after accounting for expected cost increases for schools.

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Luke Sibieta discusses the potential implications of this radical change to the school funding system and set the changes in a proper historical context by illustrating how spending has varied across different groups of schools and area over the last thirty years.