School funding and the autumn budget: What you need to know

Tes reports that with pressure mounting on the government ahead of Wednesday’s budget, Tes answers the key questions on school funding

Philip Hammond, chancellor of the exchequer, is under enormous pressure from teachers, parents, schools and education unions to provide more money for schools.

The struggle of schools trying to balance the books was highlighted last week, with a primary school in Prime Minister Theresa May’s constituency appealing to parents for help in buying basic items such as pens, pencils and books.

Here, Tes tackles some of the main questions about school funding.

Is the government protecting per-pupil funding in real terms?

In so much as it is not being cut, yes. The “protection” amounts to a freeze in funding for the next two years, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

But this comes on the back of a 5 per cent cut in per-pupil funding between 2015 and 2017. Unions say this means that schools now need more than a freeze, because of the damage caused in recent years by cuts to staff and resources.

Will schools have to fund pay rises out of their existing budgets?

Yes, unless more money is announced on Wednesday.

Are schools sitting on massive reserves?

The government says that schools have around £4.3 billion in surpluses. It’s a big number, but there are thousands of schools. In the case of academy trusts, the total “cumulative surplus” stands at £2.2 billion. This works out at an average of £811,000 per trust, according to the DfE’s consolidated annual report for the academy sector released last month.

But those schools with reserves are holding on average only one month’s funds in surplus, according to Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union.

Read more Q&As School funding and the autumn budget: What you need to know

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