DfE does not understand the financial pressure facing schools, say MPs
April 6, 2017
A committee of MPs has warned that the Department for Education (DfE) does not seem to understand the financial pressure facing schools - the most significant since the mid-1990s -and is not in a position to act swiftly where cuts threaten the quality of pupils’ education.
The Public Accounts Committee’s report, published on Wednesday, is the result of an inquiry based on the National Audit Office report published in December, which found that funding per pupil is reducing in real terms and if schools are to cope, then ‘efficiency savings’ will need to rise from £1.1 billion in 2016–17 to £3 billion by 2019–20. It found that this is due to costs which are beyond schools’ control, such as pay rises, higher employer contributions to national insurance and the teachers’ pension scheme, and the apprenticeship levy.
The committee concluded that savings have already been made, but the Government’s insistence that schools make more savings, which could come in the form of reduced spending on staff, will be hard to achieve without affecting the quality of education. Meg Hillier MP, who chairs the committee, said the Government must not be deaf to the experiences of headteachers who have already had to make potentially damaging cuts in areas such as maintenance, teacher recruitment and pastoral services.