Insufficient funding creates cost pressures

Over the past week the DfE has been using statistics about school spending in the time period from 2002-03 to 2016-17 to try to rebut the challenges from the two head teacher associations about a decline in school funding. This culminated in headteachers walking to Downing Street last Friday.

At the end of August the DfE published a paper on trends in school spending during this period at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trends-in-school-spending-2002-to-2016 I confess that its publication had passed me by, but it was the Friday of bank holiday week when it first appeared.

The DfE acknowledge some issues with the times series, most notably the creation of a large number of academies in the secondary sector in 2011-12. Academies and maintained schools have different financial years, a complicating factor when compiling data of this type for all schools. The information also comes from two different sources.

However, the headline number was that total spending was 42% higher in 2016-17 compared with 2002-03. Spending on Non staff was 68% higher in 2016-17 than 2002-03. Staff spending was 33% higher.

Total spending per pupil has increased from £4,080 to £5,790 between 2002-03 and 2016-17 at 2016-17 price levels according to the DfE data.

Spending on Teaching Staff was 17% higher in 2016-17 than 2002- 03, whereas spending on Education Support Staff was 138% higher in 2016-17 than 2002-03. This partly reflect the large growth in this sector over the time period that included the introduction of non-contact time in the primary sector through the use of PPA time and the growth in support for pupils with SEN.

Part of the growth in Education Support Staff spending may be a reflection of the devolution of more and more back office functions to schools along with the decline in local authority support services, especially for academies. Whether or not the spending is always good value for money is for the National Audit office to decide. However much of those extra costs will have been absorbed in the extra spending on the back office was 105% higher in 2016-17 than 2002- 03, compared to a 42% increase in Total spending.

There is good news on both exam fees and energy costs. Both peaked at the end of the first decade and have bene reducing in cost since then. Even so, energy costs were some 75% higher in 2016-17 than at the start of the period.

Recent concerns over supply teacher costs are reflected in the fact that spending on agency supply teaching staff was 64% higher in 2016-17 than 2002-03, and no doubt explains why both main political parties have targeted this area of spending to work on reducing costs.

Missing is a breakdown of both recruitment costs across the sector and, a breakdown of leadership pay increases compared with the increase for classroom teachers. Now that might have been interesting to see last Friday. Also missing is a breakdown of transfer to either local authorities or MATs to show how central costs have changed over this period.

 

 

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