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Fix School Funding

The issue

  • There has been 15 years with no overall growth in  school spending. This squeeze on school resources is effectively without precedent in post-war UK history.
  • Schools are now facing new and significant cost pressures e.g. surging energy prices, covid-related costs, falling primary pupil numbers, the National Insurance increase, and pressures due to significant underfunding of SEND.
  • Changes to the government’s national funding formula (NFF) have seen a redistribution of funding away from schools serving the most deprived communities in recent years.
  • Funding for pupils with special educational needs (SEND) is in crisis, with overall High Needs budget deficits estimated to be more than £2billion and growing
  • The value of pupil premium funding designed to support the most disadvantaged pupils has fallen in real-terms since 2015.
  • The government has only invested a small fraction of the covid recovery funding that its own recovery commissioner said would be required.
  • Between 2009-10 and 2021-22, capital spending declined by 25% in cash terms, and 29% when adjusted for inflation.
  • Specific types of schools including small schools and maintained nursery schools remain under extreme financial pressure and many of facing the real risk of closure.


What we want to see

  • The government needs to be more ambitious for schools and set out a proper funding plan that addresses the 15 funding squeeze.
  • The government needs to offer more support for schools experiencing severe financial pressures as a result of rising energy costs.
  • The government should set out a proper long-term capital funding plan to bring all schools up to ‘good’ condition.
  • The government should commit to a truly ambitious recovery plan based on the work of its own recovery commissioner.
  • The government should commit to at least restoring pupil premium funding in real-term terms, and increasing the Early Years Pupil Premium to reach parity with the primary pupil premium.
  • A consultation on the long-term future of the approach to maintained nursery school funding should be launched without delay.
  • The government must use the ling-awaited SEND review to develop a truly needs-led approach to SEND funding.
  • Sufficient and sustainable funding for small schools.


What we want you to do


Our conference motion

“Conference instructs National Executive to develop a national fair funding campaign to press government  to provide a sufficient overall level of funding to meet the needs of all pupils, through the national funding formula and the high needs national funding formula. This is required now to enable schools to set budgets from 2022-2023. It would allow them to meet all their statutory responsibilities and provide an extended curriculum offer that supports all children and young people to thrive academically, socially, physically and spiritually.

Conference further instructs National Executive to campaign for an increase in capital funding that will address the nation’s decrepit school estate, to ensure that school buildings and grounds are safe, fit for purpose and appropriate for the needs of the 21st century.”

Useful links

MP roundtable resources

Other useful links

Relevant articles and reports



More than half of England’s maintained nursery schools are struggling to cover core costs

Maintained nursery schools, like other early years providers, struggle to cover their costs from government funding. In April and May, sector body Early Education carried out an online survey of maintained nursery schools, in association with NAHT, NEU and UNISON.

The survey found:

  • more than half of all maintained nursery schools in England had an in-year deficit in 2021-22
  • 28% had a cumulative deficit
  • only 4 in ten (41%) had been able to set a balanced budget for 2022-23 
  • 44% could not set a balanced budget and
  • 15% didn’t yet know if they were able to.


NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said:

“The confirmation of a long-term funding commitment for maintained nursery schools was very welcome. However, it is clear that this alone will not address the issues the sector is facing. What we now need to see is a review of how funding is distributed, as well as immediate financial support for those nurseries facing the biggest financial challenges. Successive governments have pledged their commitment to the maintained nurseries, now is the time to match that commitment with actions and secure their long-term future.”

Find out more and download the survey here.

Find out more about NAHT’s campaign to Fix School Funding.

First published 29 June 2022