In December, the National Audit Office warned that schools were facing real-terms cuts, as the Department for Education was not increasing their funding per pupil in line with inflation. Amid rising costs, schools would have to make savings of 8 per cent by 2019-20, the public spending watchdog predicted. It added that schools had “not seen this level of reduction in spending power since the mid 1990s”.
In the same month, the government announced details of the proposed national funding formula, which would involve 10,740 schools gaining, but 9,128 losing, money. Unions claimed that, when other funding pressures were considered, 98 per cent of schools would suffer real-terms cuts under the new formula.
Since then, a growing number of Conservative MPs have joined Labour parliamentarians in putting pressure on education secretary Justine Greening over funding for schools in their constituencies.
A fortnight ago, TES revealed that more than a thousand small rural schools faced cuts, despite ministerial pledges to protect them (bit.ly/SmallRural).
The Grammar School Heads Association warned last week that some grammars were considering asking parents to pay hundreds of pounds a year to make up for shortfalls. It also emerged that the Treasury had clawed back £384 million set aside for converting all schools to academy status.
Governors in West Sussex this week threatened to go on “strike” as their national association warned some schools did “not have enough money to balance the budget for very basic education”.
On Tuesday, schools minister Nick Gibb insisted to MPs that the funding proposals were all about “fairness”.
But this week it also emerged that, by 2015, more than half of academies in England already had insufficient income to cover their annual expenditure.