The National Education Union, the largest UK teachers union, has warned that Norfolk’s schools are set to be hit with a £17.5m cut to spending power in 2024/25. That’s a cut of £163 for each pupil across Norfolk. Of the 399 schools in the county, 326 will have less spending power in 2024/25 as a result of these funding cuts. This contradicts claims by Ministers and Conservative MPs that they are increasing investment in education.
Spending per pupil cut for both primary and secondary
While national funding increased in cash terms by 8% in 2023/4, the increase will fall to 3.1% in 2024/5, well below inflation. Steff Aquarone, North Norfolk candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the forthcoming general election, argues that under the current government, school buildings are crumbling, and that there is a severe shortage of teachers. “Investing in education is investing in our future . . . Far from preparing the next generation for the future, ministers have totally abandoned them.” He calls for an urgent increase in government funding for education.
Over the next financial year, primary schools in Norfolk will suffer a £139 real terms reduction in spending power per pupil. Secondary schools, meanwhile, will find they have £221 less for each pupil.
School budgets stretched to breaking point
In a December 2023 report, just updated, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has concluded that the purchasing power of school budgets in 2024 will still be about 4% lower than in 2010. The report highlights that the costs faced by schools are growing faster than inflation across the economy. The fall in spending power is likely push already stretched school budgets to the brink, with a worse educational experience for pupils and worse outcomes.
According to the IFS, the most deprived schools have suffered the most significant cuts. In 2010, the most deprived schools were received 31% more funds per pupil than the least deprived schools. They have however suffered larger spending cuts, and their funding advantage has now been reduced to 21%.
Duncan Baker, Conservative MP for North Norfolk, highlights in his social media output his commitment to education. He has this week introduced a bill in Parliament in support of children with autism. East Anglia Bylines has approached him for comment on education funding cuts in Norfolk, but received no response.