Jeremy Hunt announces £2.3bn per year boost for state schools

Extra money meets previous pledge to restore funding for pupils up to age of 16 back to 2020 levels

State schools in England will receive a funding boost of £2.3bn a year for the next two years, Jeremy Hunt has announced, with the Treasury saying the extra funds amount to an “avera​​ge cash increase for every pupil of more than £1,000 by 2024-25” compared with last year.

The extra cash would see core schools funding rise from £53.8bn this year to £58.8bn by 2025, meeting a previous pledge by the government to restore funding for pupils up to the age of 16 back to 2010 levels in real terms.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies noted that the extra money was funded “in large part by recycling £5bn previously earmarked for increasing overseas aid spending”. The £2.3bn also includes £300m that the Treasury will no longer claw back from schools, after being budgeted for the planned rise in national insurance that was reversed earlier this year.​

The funding announcement was greeted with relief by school leaders, who have been lobbying ministers publicly and privately to counteract the effects of steep rises in pay and energy costs wreaking havoc with their budgets.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the announcement was “positive news” that suggested the concerns of parents and school leaders were being heard by government.

“We’ll be closely looking at the figures to fully understand the implications. In particular, we’ll be looking at where this leaves special educational needs and post-16 provision, which are both facing extraordinarily difficult financial circumstances,” Barton said.

“We recognise this commitment to education is made in the context of a bleak economic picture, but to put it into perspective this comes after a decade of real-terms cuts to schools and colleges.”

Karen Roberts, chief executive of the Kemnal Academies Trust, which runs 45 primary and secondary academies in England, said the extra money would make “some headway” in bridging funding gaps. “However, with costs rising on average by 7% and the increase in funding announced equating to approximately 3%, it is not clear where the extra funding needed to plug the gap will be found. My concern is that it will be up to individual schools to find the money,” Roberts said.

The decision not to extend extra funding to sixth form or further education colleges was hugely disappointing, according to sector leaders. David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “I’m pleased to see some extra school funding – they need it. But the failure to extend that to colleges is devastating.”

Hunt ​also took a swipe at Labour’s policy of ​increasing ​funding​ for​ state schools by adding ​VAT to private school fees​. Hunt told MPs that “according to certain estimates this would result in up to 90,000 children from the independent sector switching to state schools”​​.

Hunt was referencing a 2018 report commissioned by the Independent Schools Council, which represents many private schools​. It claimed ​that ​adding VAT would cause many private schools to close.​ The ISC’s figures for 2022 showed that its members charge an average of £15,000 annually for day school pupils, rising to £18,000 a year in London.


Richard Adams Education editor

The GuardianTramp

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