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Distribution and shortfall in school funding will entrench social division, finds new NEU analysis

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The National Education Union (@NEUnion) has released an analysis of school income and expenditure drawn from the Consistent Financial Reporting (CFR) returns for Local-Authority-maintained schools for 2020-21 that were released last week

The analysis – available here – shows that:

•Whilst schools made one-off savings to non-staff expenditure during the two national lockdowns – March to May 2020 and January to March 2021 – their income remains significantly below its level in 2015-16.

•Cuts to per pupil income are highest in schools teaching pupils with the highest levels of deprivation – a significant challenge to levelling up.

•The proportion of secondary schools with a revenue deficit is lower in schools with the least deprivation.

•There is significant regional variation in the proportion of schools with a revenue deficit, notably secondary schools in the North East, which on average have no reserves, and the North East is the most deprived region in the country.

•Special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision in mainstream schools has not yet been restored to its level in 2015-16.

•Spending on pupils in special schools continues to fall year on year and is now 10% below the level of 2015-16.

Commenting on the analysis, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Schools have been able to make one-off savings because of closure during the national lockdowns, but they are still in a challenging position. For example they are not in a position to reduce their class sizes from historically high levels – primary class sizes are at highest level this century and secondary class sizes are the highest since records began in 1978.

“It is disgraceful and in direct contradiction to stated Government policy to level up England that cuts to schools have been highest in schools with the highest levels of deprivation.

“The situation for pupils with special needs is of great concern and the Government’s long delayed Special Needs Review will not succeed unless the Government find additional resources to increase provision for these pupils.

“Unless the Government urgently addresses this then social divisions will be entrenched even further.”

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