The Government must fix the broken education funding system, commit to a multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges and bring forward a strategic ten-year education funding plan, MPs say today.
A report by the Education Select Committee says funding has not kept pace with the rising demands placed on schools and colleges. The Committee’s inquiry found that, as well as coping with growing pupil numbers and rising costs, schools were increasingly being asked to cover additional services – such as mental health, social issues and more complex special educational needs and disabilities provision – without adequate resources, putting the sector under significant strain over the past decade.
The report shows that further education has been hardest hit, with post-16 funding per student falling by 16% in real terms over the past decade. MPs urge a £1 billion boost.
The report makes the following key recommendations:
- ensure schools get the multi-billion pound investment they desperately need;
- urgently address underfunding in further education by increasing the base rate from £4,000 to at least £4,760, rising in line with inflation;
- increase school funding by raising the age-weighted pupil unit value;
- increase high needs funding for special educational needs and disabilities to address a projected £1.2 billion deficit;
- implement the full roll-out of the National Funding Formula as soon as feasible, and make the various funding formulae more forward-looking and less reliant on historical factors;
- ensure all eligible students attract Pupil Premium and overcome existing barriers to automatic enrolment as a matter of priority;
- secure from the Treasury the full amount of estimated Pupil Premium money that has not been claimed because students did not register for free school meals, and allocate this money to disadvantaged children; and
- extend the Pupil Premium to provide for 16–19 year olds.
Speaking at the launch of the report, James Frith said:
“Our report amplifies the voices of teachers, school leaders, parents and campaigners up and down the country who have been telling Government for years that our schools and colleges are being starved of funding.
“8% real terms cuts have left many schools unable to provide adequate SEND support when the demand for this support is rising. Schools are being forced to cut staff, pupil support and even the length of the school day. Colleges have been forced to cut staff and courses.
“Our report recommends a ten-year plan for funding the education system like the one agreed for our NHS, plus substantial cash injections to cover the 8% funding gap currently faced by schools and the £1.2 billion deficit in high needs funding.
“We also call on Government to increase further education funding to address historic underfunding and ensure that, with the rise of automation, FE sits at the heart of a long-term plan for education.
“Our children and young people deserve a world-class education system fit for the 21st Century. I urge the incoming Prime Minister to look carefully at this report and follow our recommendations to deliver it.”