Government is ignoring schools ‘buckling’ under funding pressures, ex-DfE official warns

Education Policy Institute executive director Natalie Perera warns that disadvantaged pupils will be hardest hit by the financial squeeze on school budgets. Tes reports

Natalie Perera, who was head of school funding reform at the Department for Education from 2011 to 2014, is now executive director and head of research at the Education Policy Institute.

Last month, it published a report saying that the proportion of maintained secondary schools with deficits had almost trebled in the four years up to 2016-17.

Ms Perera told Tes: “The narrative is that we trust teachers, we trust leaders, we want them to be autonomous, we want to devolve power to schools, but yet on funding when they tell us that they are falling down, government’s saying, ‘Oh you’ve got more money than ever, deal with it.’”

“They are probably using all of our reports, stuff the IFS [Institute for Fiscal Studies] has put out and going to the Treasury and saying ‘Look, we are in a bit of a sticky situation here’, but publicly they can’t say that. It’s political suicide.”

“There is enough money in the system, I’m sure, to put 30 children in a class in front of a teacher, but if you have got children there with additional needs, EAL, mental health needs, kids who are hungry, then just sitting them down in a classroom in front of a teacher ain’t going to fix that.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We trust schools to manage their own budgets, but offer support to help them get the most out of every pound they spend – and latest figures show that schools hold surpluses of more than £4 billion.”

Read more Government is ignoring schools ‘buckling’ under funding pressures, ex-DfE official warns

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