Cameron: spending per pupil will fall

blog 1 050215 255

The Prime Minister said the decision to freeze funding for five years was “very difficult” – and a union leader warned of a “harsh, austere period”.

Over the last five years, the education budget has been protected from cuts, rising in line with prices. Now David Cameron has admitted that if he wins the election his party cannot promise to inflation-proof school funding, the Telegraph reports. This would result in an estimated budget cut of 10% in real terms.

Just a day before the announcement, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan appeared to confirm that the schools budget would be ring-fenced, disclosing that she was “fighting” within the Cabinet for the money.

Mr. Cameron claimed that many schools had already shown they could cope “brilliantly” with pressure on budgets. “I accept that it is a difficult decision for some schools, because the amount of cash per child is not going up by inflation,” he said. “But I think that schools have demonstrated, brilliantly, over the last five years that they can be more efficient, they can be more effective, they can make their budgets, they can particularly make their budgets work better because many of them are now academies, and have greater freedoms and greater abilities to run their schools in the way they see fit.”

NAHT’s Russell Hobby estimated that the impact on the school budget would rise to about 12% by 2020 and warned of a “harsh, austere” period ahead. “That is a significant sum of money, especially at a time when external services to schools have been cut to the bone already,” he said. “Staffing is the biggest cost a school faces. This will be protected to the last, but what happens then?”

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt commented: “The truth is that you can’t protect schools when you have plans to take spending as a share of GDP back to levels not seen since the 1930s. Labour has always prioritised schools and would be able to do so again because we have a balanced approach to bringing down the deficit, unlike the Tories’ risky plan not just to balance the books but to cut for year after year afterwards.”

What would the effect of a budget cut of up to 12% on your school if the Tories win the election? Do you share Mr Cameron’s view that schools can “make their budgets work better”?

8 thoughts on “Cameron: spending per pupil will fall

  1. Misleading headlines as so often! Rising school numbers, especially in primary schools, will be matched by increased funding. Inflaton is very low at the moment and so the impact of not increasing school budgets in line with inflation will not be very significant.

    The Government is overspending and Education is the third largest area of spending. To do nothing would be like ignoring your rising credit card bill and hoping it will go away. It doesn’t and it won’t. In this context the Government’s actions are very restrained.

    Perhaps this will give schools the stimulus they need to address their waste. One of my recent sixth form classes had only three students in it and classes of less than ten are common in most schools. This is a ludicrous situation, which wastes a lot of money but nobody talks about it and nobody does anything about it.

  2. Typical Tory response in the previous email. We are trying to encourage young people to make the best of their education. Having a small class of students who want to study a less popular subject is beneficial not only to them but to the UK as a whole. Yes make economies but not at the expense of quality and choice for our children. Nb simple GCSE maths will show increasing the 45%tax rate to 46% will mean you can ring fence education spending in the present low inflation climate referred to

  3. Abuse is no substitute for argument, I’m afraid. It just wasn’t value for money to teach those three students I taught; it means that something else can’t be paid for, as government cash is limited. A more cost effective solution would have been to work with a local secondary school and pool our small sixth forms so that we could create larger classes.

    As for increasing the top rate of tax this is a simplistic answer. It discourages those who want to work in this country; it encourages those who work in this country to work abroad and it encourages tax avoidance. Hollande’s 75% tax rate did that very effectively.

    Also simple GCSE Maths does not apply; if you look up the laffer curve you will see that inceasing tax does not necessarily generate more revenue.

  4. Frank S, either you understand the implications of the Laffer curve and are deliberately misusing it, or you don’t and are hoping that sounding authoritative will get you out of the argument. Although the theoretical model makes response to increased taxation unpredictable, the empirical evidence (such as it is) is that income from taxation increases as the rate increases fairly reliably up to what might be considered quite high levels.

    Secondly, your argument that tiny classes are common is demonstrably untrue. OECD and DfE data show that average class sizes in the UK at primary and increasingly at secondary level are among the highest in the developed world. Although small classes do exist, they are more often than not special cases – very high/ very low achieving pupils, or in particular 6th form subjects. Circumstances where, I feel, there is a good argument for their being maintained.

    Thirdly, arguing that impact on school budgets from decreased per child spending is offset by increasing school intake is absurd. Where will the extra children go? Who will teach them? What resources will be available for them?

    Your arguments only work if you don’t care about education in the state sector, or if your vision for it is as a box ticking exercise where learning and opportunity are minor/non existent concerns.

    Finally, accusing people of being abusive when they are not is, in itself, a form of abuse.

  5. Cuts need to be made across the board. Huge sums of money are wasted everywhere, schools included. Good (effective) teachers will still be able to do a very good job with less money – the question is, how many really good teachers are out there?

    A Labour government would be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times worse as Labour only knows how to rack up huge debt. It’s because of the ineptitude of all past Labour governments that we get into these sorts of messes in the first place.

    No logical and practical person would want buffoons and clowns like Milliband and Balls in charge. They are the prime ingredients of recipes for total disaster.

  6. So, let’s drop all the teachers who _are_ struggling to get the results under increased class sizes, increased workloads and reduced resources because they obviously aren’t ‘effective’ enough? We’ll just replace them with the new highly effective teachers that grow on the magic teacher tree…

    Alternatively, we just move all the kids into a single super-mega academy and allow the handful of remaining ‘highly effective’ teachers to lead classes of a few thousand students each. Of course, we’ll have to invest in a new IT infrastructure for registration because, by the time we’ve gotten from Aaron A. Aardvark to Zachary Xavier Zamboni, the school day will be over. (Wait! A Govt IT development programme? Best toss another few hundred million on the fire…)

    In all seriousness though, I haven’t heard anything from either side of the political divide that isn’t ideologically driven. Without evidence based policy making, or even effective policy evaluation, all we’re doing is treating education as another football for these inept teams to kick around.

  7. Hi Victor

    I think you are being a little dismissive here when you say that I’m “hoping (to sound) authoritative”. On the substance of your email you clearly understand the Laffer curve and so you will know that increasing tax will, by and large, increase revenue unless we push this to ridiculously high levels. What we don’t know is how much tax avoidance and evasion takes place. We also don’t know how much of a disincentive it is to investment in this country and to those seeking employment here. This will also then affect lower tax levels. The key question is, does the increase in revenue compensate for the other negative effects of higher taxation? I hope you feel that better reflects the dilemma of increasing top tax rates.

    On school budgets you appear to have misread what I have said. What I said was that school budgets will not rise to match inflation and that, in a low inflation world, the effects of this would be less significant. As to class size I was purely talking about sixth form classes. It is clearly not value for money, when money is short, to teach any sixth form classes with small numbers of students. You appear to have missed my point that our own school could have worked in partnership with another school to save money; indeed there is a bigger argument for universal sixth form colleges, which would save serious amounts of money and ensure the better teaching of more specialist subjects.

    Also I always feel that labelling people – “typical Tory” (or typical Pakistani or typical Jew) is abusive but perhaps I’m being too sensitive.

    Lastly, we may not agree on much but your response to Grahame about the “political football” is something we both feel strongly about. Educational change should be driven by research, pilots and evaluation and not by political whim, which would help reduce the costs of the incessant changes afflicting education in England.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>