The Government spending review, suggesting billions in funding for schools over the next three years leaves a number of questions unanswered for York schools, according to York Labour’s education spokesperson, Councillor Fiona Fitzpatrick.
Cllr Fitzpatrick said: “Labour locally has been very vocal about the disgraceful situation of York pupils being the worst funded in the country, which is something that should be addressed immediately, not next year or the year after. Headteachers have also been vocal about how the funding squeeze is impacting the ability of their schools to deliver the education every pupil deserves.
“The announcement by the Prime Minister, which didn’t say exactly where the money will go, indicated it will be concentrated in areas which have been historically underfunded, which absolutely must include York.
“But major concerns must surely remain until schools learn where the funding is coming from; internal government documents highlight this is ‘reprioritised programme spend’ or in other words, not new money. It won’t be any good for schools if the Government is giving with one hand and taking away with the other”.
The funding announcement commits to a minimum spent of £5,000 per pupil in secondary schools from 2020-21 and £4,000 per pupil in primary schools from 2021-22. York schools currently receive £4,865 and £3,680 per pupil respectively meaning for secondary schools, any change could be negligible.
Analysis of the spending commitment by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that should funding be delivered as announced, that it will merely return spending per pupil to 2009-10 levels. This, according to the IFS, disregards inflation and still represents “a significant squeeze on school budgets when considered in historical terms.”
Schools funding nationally has fallen by almost 10% in real terms since austerity was introduced under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government in 2010.
“Any increase in funding that materialises will be long overdue but could be insignificant and clearly cannot address the reduced level of support for pupils’ education in York over the past 9 years” says Cllr. Fitzpatrick. “It’s testament to the excellent teaching staff we have that York schools do so well on shoestring budgets and in such challenging circumstances”.
Cllr. Fitzpatrick also said she welcomed the announcement of more money for supporting pupils with special educational needs (SEND) nationally, but would have to await further detail to understand whether or not any funding will be allocated to York and that if it is, if that funding will be sufficient to help reduce pressures of around £2m on York’s annual £17.3m SEND budget.