Damian Hinds has offered schools no hope that they will see their funding rise in the years to come.
In an exclusive interview, Tes questioned the education secretary about a funding squeeze that has resulted in schools making teachers redundant and cutting courses.
Instead of holding out hope that spending on schools may rise with the government's upcoming comprehensive spending review, he highlighted a new Department for Education initiative to help schools save money.
When asked when the era of financial pressures on schools in England will come to an end, he said: “Compared to other countries, we don’t spend a great deal less than they do on education. In fact, with many comparisons we spend more, and, of course, compared to 20 years ago we spend considerably more per pupil in schools than we used to.”
In June, the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated that school funding had been cut by 8 per cent since 2010.
When asked whether some would regard his comments as complacent, and leave heads wondering whether he "got it", Mr Hinds added: “I have said many times that I recognise that it is challenging managing school budgets.
'Funding is tight'
“Funding is tight and that is because although there is more money spent on schools than in days gone by, and although it is comparable or in many cases higher than in other countries, we all have high expectations, and schools themselves have high expectations, and are constantly pushing themselves to do more.
“Part of the School Resource Management Strategy is about making sure that where there are opportunities to find ways to ease some of those difficulties that it is possible to do that.”
Last month, the DfE announced what it described as a “fully funded” pay rise for teachers, although it expected schools to have budgeted for the first 1 per cent of the increase.
However, unions have reported that some schools in dire financial straits had not budgeted for such a rise, and could now have to make cuts to give their teachers the full pay rise.
Asked whether he thought such schools were financially irresponsible, Mr Hinds said: “You have to have a working assumption about what is going to happen to any large cost item next year versus this year. The assumption to make would have been a 1 per cent increase on average.”
And when asked whether such schools would receive extra financial help, Mr Hinds flagged up the DfE’s new School Resource Management Strategy, which aims to help schools save money on things like photocopying, utilities and insurance.
You can read the full exclusive interview with education secretary Damian Hinds in tomorrow's Tes magazine, available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here