Even primary school children are likely to be able to see the problems with the Prime Minister’s maths.
Today I confronted Prime Minister Theresa May with analysis from the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), which showed education funding per pupil has fallen 8% on the Tories’ watch.
This further exposes the meaninglessness of Theresa May’s repeated claim, that schools funding is at a “record high,” which completely fails to take into account rising pupil numbers. For example, the average primary school has 42 more pupils than in 2009, according to the Department for Education.
The IFS notes that total school spending in England increased by 1% in real terms between 2009–10 and 2017–18, but over the same period, per pupil funding fell by about 8% in real terms.
Claims of “record high” funding are at best an error. Unfortunately, this has been repeated so many times it is starting to look like a cynical manipulation of figures. How can we trust the government’s figures on anything?
I have visited all state-maintained schools in my constituency and heard serious concerns from teachers and parents. They tell me schools are being forced to cut whole subjects and many activities. Pupils with special needs and disabilities are losing the support they need.
Last month I wrote to Education Secretary Damian Hinds about schools funding. The response I received again ducked the question of per-pupil cuts in recent years, instead quoting figures showing changes over several decades.
State schools desperately need more funding, otherwise the gap between state and private schools is likely to widen even further. This is putting millions of children at a serious disadvantage, now and throughout their lives.
THANGAM: The Prime Minister said school funding is up. And it is. But pupil numbers are up. Costs are up. So the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that since 2010, there’s been an 8% real terms per-pupil cut.
How can the Prime Minister expect anybody to trust her on anything if she can’t get her numbers right?
PRIME MINISTER: Can I say to the Hon. Lady, as I have said before in this chamber, overall per pupil funding is being protected in real terms in this government. The funding for the core schools budget this year, at £42 billion, is at its highest ever level.
We are protecting the Pupil Premium this year, we are giving £2.4 billion to support those who need it most.
The core schools budget is rising by nearly £2.6 billion across this year and the next. But what we have also done, alongside putting extra money into schools, is introduce a fairer national funding formula, which ensures a fairer distribution of that money across the country.