11th Dec, 2018

School spending just doesn’t add up, DfE is told

Rob George 11th Oct, 2018

COUNTY education campaigners have revealed their anger after the UK Statistics Authority delivered a stinging rebuke to the Government’s claims more money than ever before was going into education in the UK.

The Worth Less? campaign group, led locally by Droitwich Spa High School headteacher Natalie Waters, spoke out after Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, revealed his reprimand to the Department of Education in a letter released on Monday (October 8).

Sir David slammed education bosses following a DfE tweet on September 28 which claimed: “There is more money going into our #schools than ever before and we’re helping schools to manage and make the most of their budgets.”

In a damning indictment, Sir David said the figures were presented in such a way as to ‘misrepresent changes in school funding’.

“In the tweet, school spending figures were exaggerated by using a truncated axis, and by not adjusting for per pupil spend,” he said.

“In the blog about government funding of schools (which I note your Department has now updated), an international comparison of spend which included a wide range of education expenditure unrelated to publicly funded schools was used, rather than a comparison of school spending alone.

“The result was to give a more favourable picture.

“Yet the context would clearly lead readers to expect that the figures referred to spending on schools.

“I am sure you share my concerns instances such as these do not help to promote trust and confidence in official data, and indeed risk undermining them.”

In response, Worth Less? which is calling for a fairer funding deal for schools in all areas of the UK, claimed they had told the truth about school budgets for three years and said the DfE had been in denial.

“Parents and the wider public have a right to know the facts and the Government cannot have it both ways – you cannot slash our budgets and then pretend all’s well,” the statement read.

“The constant use of misinformation is placing an intolerable strain on headteachers’ relationships with the DfE. Trust is being eroded. Were heads to repeatedly act in a similar way with parents and or OFSTED the consequences would be serious indeed.

“We respectfully request the DfE to publicly set the record straight and much more crucially work with the Chancellor to make a real terms investment in our schools in the upcoming Budget. No ifs, no buts and no smoke and mirrors.”

A DfE spokeswoman said: “The most recent volume of the OECD’s Education at a Glance report said in 2015 among G7 nations, the UK Government spent the highest percentage of GDP on institutions delivering primary and secondary education.

“This is one of several statistics in the OECD report that demonstrate the UK is among the highest spenders on education at primary and secondary level, whether you look at spend as a share of GDP, spend as a share of government spending or spend per pupil.

“Other independently verified statistics show the Government is investing in schools – the IFS found that real-terms per pupil funding in 2020 will be over 50 per cent higher than it was in 2000.”

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