William Eichler 12 July 2018

Gap between spending per pupil in England and Wales ‘eliminated’

Gap between spending per pupil in England and Wales ‘eliminated’ image

School funding in England has fallen faster than in Wales, ‘virtually eliminating’ the gap between the two nations in school spending per pupil, financial experts reveal.

Total school spending per pupil in England fell by about 8% in real terms, while in Wales it dropped by 5%, according to a new study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

School spending in England was protected in real terms under the coalition Government (2010-15) and cut by 4% between 2015 and 2017.

However, the IFS calculated the overall cut of 8% by including the additional effects of much larger cuts to school sixth form spending per pupil (25%) and local authority spending (55%).

The cut in total school spending in Wales has also been driven by large cuts to school sixth form funding (22%) and local authority spending (38%).

The difference in funding cuts has led to the gap in school spending per pupil between England and Wales being ‘virtually eliminated’, the IFS found.

In 2017-18, total school spending per pupil in England was about £5,870 which was just 2% — or £100 per pupil — above the £5,760 seen in Wales.

‘School spending per pupil has fallen by more in England than in Wales over the last eight years, virtually eliminating the gap in spending per pupil between the two countries,’ Luke Sibieta, IFS research fellow said.

‘Policymakers in both England and Wales have chosen to protect spending directly allocated to schools for pupils under 16, and to make much larger cuts to sixth form allocations and to local authority spending.

‘Schools in England have faced the additional pressure of a fast growing pupil population, whilst numbers in Wales have remained roughly constant.’

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