Hilary Grayson, Maire Williams
16 January 2018
Over the past year, school funding has played a prominent role in education policy and debate. From the National Audit Office’s assessment that schools would need to make savings of around £3billion to make their budgets works, to the possibility of large funding cuts for some schools should the new National Funding Formula (NFF) be fully implemented, worries over the future of school funding and the resulting impact on educational outcomes have grown.
This report presents the findings from a review of key evidence documents on how recent changes to school funding have impacted on school spending in England. The review appraises literature published from 2010 onwards to examine how funding levels have changed overtime, how what funds are actually spent on has changed, and how educational outcomes appear to vary with expenditure. Within this there is a focus on how disadvantage pupils and schools with high proportions of disadvantaged pupils have been effected.
Key findings include:
- Schools face significant cost increases moving forward, especially in terms of staffing.
- The observed benefits of higher spending are typically greater for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- There are encouraging signs that the pupil premium is being put to good use, but funding cuts may undermine its future success.
- The new NFF could significantly reduce differences in funding between schools with very similar characteristics, if fully implemented.
- It is pupils living in the least deprived areas who will experience the highest relative gains in funding as a direct result of the NFF.