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How real terms cuts to education funding will affect schools in London

Schools in London will soon be feeling the impact of an estimated £3bn shortfall in the government’s education budget by 2020.

The picture is extremely bleak, with 98 per cent of schools set to lose funding, at a time when costs are rising and pupil numbers are growing.

London is likely to lose an average of £540 per pupil – a total of over half a billion pounds for the city as a whole. The average real terms cut per borough is over £17 million.

Newham is the worst hit, facing a loss of more than £31 million, with other Inner London boroughs facing heavy losses – nearly £29 million for Southwark and £28 million for Tower Hamlets. Even well-off boroughs like Richmond and Kensington & Chelsea stand to lose over £7 million each.

This funding shortfall is a result of drastically increased costs and levies on schools with no additional money from the government. London is also particularly badly hit by the new national funding formula the government has introduced.

While a fairer distribution of funding is the right thing to aim for, the introduction of the new formula at a time of real crisis in overall education funding means that schools in London will lose significant amounts of money, putting at risk the excellent teaching and school improvement it has seen in recent years.

The impact on learning will be significant. Class sizes in primary schools could rise and some GCSE and A Level subjects could be cut from the curriculum entirely as school budgets are pushed beyond breaking point.

No school should be losing funding as a result of the new formula when they are already suffering real terms cuts overall.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:  “School budgets are being pushed beyond breaking point. The government's £3 billion real terms cut to education funding must be reversed or we will see education and care suffer. Already heads are being forced to cut staff, cut the curriculum and cut specialist support. A new funding formula is the right thing to do, but it cannot be truly fair unless there is enough money to go round in the first place.”

NAHT is holding a series of national events to raise awareness amongst school leaders, governors and parents. We will be meeting in London on Friday 24th February.

Shadow Schools Minister Mike Kane said:“The Government is failing to address the fact that schools face a real terms drop of £3 billion according to National Audit Office figures. No matter how much Ministers fudge the figures school leaders are telling us that their budgets are becoming unsustainable by 2019.”

First published 05 January 2018