The next few years are likely to be particularly challenging for schools, colleges, universities and nurseries. There have been significant squeezes on all areas of education spending over the last decade, which will only be partially unwound over the next few years. The pandemic has led most children to missing months of normal education, is likely to widen educational inequalities and has created acute financial challenges for some providers.

At the same time, the government has high ambitions for the education sector. One of the biggest themes of the government’s long-term policy agenda is ‘levelling up’ poorer regions of the country, with a heavy emphasis placed upon the role schools and colleges can play. Further education and skills have received particular attention, with a focus on improving the quality and take-up of technical qualifications and equalising funding for further and higher education qualifications.

This event, examined how education spending can be best set to support levelling up and narrow inequalities. This includes both the level of spending, how it is distributed and how existing spending could be used better to support levelling up. This event coincided with the launch of our 2021 annual report on education spending in England, supported by the Nuffield Foundation.