School funding cuts 'risk educational outcomes', spending watchdog warns

The DfE's approach to 'managing the risks to schools’ financial sustainability cannot be judged to be effective', National Audit Office reports.


Pupils’ education could suffer as schools are forced to find £3 billion of savings by 2019-20 amid soaring costs and real-terms funding cuts, the National Audit Office has warned.


Schools have “not seen this level of reduction in spending power since the mid-1990s”, according to the spending watchdog’s report published today.


The NAO found that the Department for Education is not increasing schools’ funding per pupil in line with inflation, meaning it will only rise from £5,447 in 2015-16 to £5,519 in 2019-20.


At the same time, the DfE expects schools to find £3 billion of savings to counteract rising costs fuelled by pay rises, the introduction of the national living wage, higher contributions to national insurance and the teachers’ pension scheme, and the apprenticeship levy.


The savings equate to an 8 per cent real-terms cut between 2014-15 and 2019-20, the report says.


However, these savings estimates do not take account of DfE policies such as the phasing out of the Education Services Grant, which will slash £615 million from the funds available to local authorities and academies to provide services to schools.


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