By Georgina Lee-18 JUL 2017

On Monday, the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, announced an extra £1.3 billion funding for schools between 2018 and 2020.

The leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union, Geoff Barton, said it was a ‘step in the right direction’.

But teachers’ unions ATL and NUT said in a joint statement that the extra funding ‘isn’t enough to stop the huge cuts that schools are making’, and Ms Greening’s announcement amounted to ‘smoke and mirrors’.

FactCheck looks at the figures.

£1.3 billion extra funding. That means schools will have more cash to spend, right?

Yes and no.

Since 2010, education spending per pupil has fallen in real terms. Between 2010 and 2015, it fell by 14 per cent. Compare that with the period 1998 to 2010, when funding per pupil increased by 5 per cent each year on average, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

And in 2015, the government announced further cuts that would have seen school funding per pupil fall by an extra 6.5 per cent by 2020. Since that announcement, spending per pupil has already fallen by 4.6%, compared to 2015 levels.
Justine Greening’s statement on Monday effectively cancelled the remaining 1.9 per cent cuts that were due to take place before the end of 2020.

So school spending per pupil will remain at the same low level for the next two years.

But Luke Sibieta from the Institute of Fiscal Studies pointed out that this is an average position, and the effect on individual schools will depend on the new funding formula (which we subjected to the FactCheck treatment back in May).

He said that ‘some schools could receive cash-terms increases in funding per pupil of around one per cent between 2017-18 and 2019-20 (meaning a real-terms cut), whilst others could receive gains of around six per cent over the same period’. He said it will be up to local authorities to decide how much each school receives.

Where’s the money coming from?

This is not new money from the Treasury. As the Education Secretary said in the Commons, the additional investment in schools ‘will be funded in full from efficiencies and savings […] rather than higher taxes or more debt’.

Ms Greening said that the £1.3 billion in extra cash for schools will be made up of:
  • £420 million from ‘efficiencies and savings across [the education] capital budget’, of which £315 million will come from cutting funding for ‘healthy pupils’ scheme.
  • £280 million from the free schools budget. The Education Secretary says means that only 110 of the 140 free schools announced at the Budget will go ahead. The remaining 30 schools will still be opened, but as standard local authority-run institutions.
  • £600 million from the Department for Education ‘resource budget’.
In other words, Ms Greening plans to raid parts of her overall education budget to pay for ‘core’ schools funding.

FactCheck verdict
Monday’s announcement of an extra £1.3 billion for schools will spare them the cuts they were due in the next two years. However, since 2015, funding per pupil has fallen in real terms by 4.6 per cent. Spending per pupil will remain at the same low level for the next two years.