Schools Facing Triple Funding Threat

Published: 6 September 2022
Our Chief Executive, Stephen Betts, has written an opinion piece for the Sheffield Star about the looming funding crisis.

This is a big week for schools as they face up to a looming funding crisis. The absence of a government across the summer should finally come to an end today, with the appointment of a Prime Minister presumably shortly followed by a new Education Secretary. This needs to be followed, in similar short order, by announcements about how the Department for Education will support schools to deal with a triple funding challenge.

The first funding challenge is rising wage costs. The pay awards for teachers and support staff were announced over the summer. They are truly well deserved and do not fully address the cost of living crisis that staff are experiencing, but they are also currently not funded. The impact of this on school budgets, if the government do not address this, will be catastrophic.

The second funding challenge is energy costs. Schools are not protected (if that is the right phrase) by the price cap. At whatever point their existing arrangements are open to the market cost of energy they will face eye watering cost increases. Many will have included increases in their budgets, but the extent of the rising cost has moved on several times since those budgets were set.   

The third funding challenge is the starting point for school budgets as they face up to the two issues above. School budgets continue to be significantly below 2010 levels. The Institute for Fiscal Studies had projected that rises in core spending per pupil would have seen the level of funding return to 2010 levels by 2024/25. This now looks unlikely with current inflation pressures and it should also be noted that the situation is worse in the FE sector.

School leaders are very adept at managing funding challenges, but this one simply cannot be overcome by trimming already tight budgets. At a time when investment in education needs to be rising to overcome the legacy of Covid, which is profound across so many of the communities we serve, it is facing an unprecedented funding challenge. We can only hope that the government understands this and now, finally, responds appropriately.


Stephen Betts

(CEO – Learn Sheffield)

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