Education Spending

Spending Lie

The Conservatives keep on insisting that they are providing record levels of spending on education.[1] To understand spending more clearly this page covers the following areas.

  • Is the overall spending increasing in real terms?
  • In real terms what is the spending per pupil now as compared to 2010/11?
  • Where is the money being spent? Spending per pupil doesn't mean the pupil benefits from the money if it is being poured into free schools and then into executive wages for example

You can find information on cuts to Childcare here

  1. School funding: Is the government spending record amounts? BBC, 8 October 2018:

Spending 2010-2019

Around half of primary and secondary schools will be faced with large, real cuts in funding per pupil of between 6 and 11 per cent between 2016 and 2019. The overall budget has been cut by 20 billion, equivalent to 20%[1].

Core schools budget (primary and secondary) represents 75% of school spending. Other areas impacted are early years, sixth form, pupil premium and high needs have all also been cut in real terms over the last two years.

The amount spent on education doesn't mean a great deal in isolation. Other factors need to be borne in mind such as:

  • Number of pupils in and entering the education system
  • Where the money is being spent

Spending on Education as shown in real terms (2018 prices)

Fiddling the Figures

While school funding has decreased in real terms, the figures are worse than the headline figure. School funding figures given by the government have been found to include billions of pounds of university fees being paid by students, rather than only government spending. The government maintains that OECD figures confirm the UK to be the 3rd highest spender on education in the world. These figures are from 2015 and are massively skewed as it is not just a schools figure or even about government spending. It shows the proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), the value of goods and services produced, spent on all educational institutions, including universities as well as schools. The overall figure includes personal spending, meaning that all the billions paid by students on their tuition fees are part of the total.

Source: HM Treasury, Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2018;previous PESAs; Office for National Statistics, Blue Book; HM Treasury deflators, March 2018 (

The real figures show that the percentage on National Income spent on education has dropped significantly from 5.7% in 2010 to 4.4% in 2018[2].

The Office for National Statistics is investigating whether the money lent to students every year for tuition fees - much of which will never be repaid - should appear as a cost in the public finances. Last year, the ONS said £17bn was lent to students, with about £3bn received in repayments. Two parliamentary committees have heavily criticised the way the cost of student finance is invisible in terms of public spending. They have suggested that the borrowing and lending associated with tuition fees should show up in the national balance sheet, with accusations that the current system is a "fiscal illusion". But the Department for Education seems to have pre-empted this - wrapping tuition fees into its definition of education spending. Has it inadvertently signalled to the ONS that it agrees that lending for fees should be counted alongside public spending? The chancellor might be surprised at such an intervention that could add billions to the deficit. What the figures more realistically reflect is the cost of higher education and the fact that the UK has some of the highest tuition fees[3]

Spending Per Pupil

There was a baby boom in the early 2000s, which has been hitting primary schools for several years and is now moving up through the secondary system.

Between 2009 and 2016, the school system expanded to take in an extra 470,000 pupils.

The Department for Education says that between 2016 and 2025 there will be a further increase in the state school system, up from about 7.4 million pupils to about 8.1 million.[4]

So while funding has gone down in real terms, the number of pupils has increaed.

During the 1980s and 1990s, primary school spending per pupil grew by 2.3% per year, on average, in real terms and secondary school spending per pupil grew by slightly less (around 1.5% per year, on average). There was a fall of 6% in real terms in secondary school spending per pupil between 1993–94 and 1995–96.

Under a Labour government from 1999 onwards, spending per pupil grew rapidly, with growth of around 5% per year in real terms for primary and secondary schools over the 2000s. This led primary school spending per pupilto rise from £2,700 per pupil in 1999–2000 to reach £4,500 by 2009–10, whilst secondary school spending per pupil grew from £3,500 to £5,800 per pupil.

Total school spending per pupil fell by about 8% or about £500 per pupil between 2009–10 and 2017–18. This is probably the best measure of the change in total public spending available for school services over this time. It includes the effect of cuts to local authority services, many of which schools will have had to fund from their existing budgets, and cuts to school sixth-form funding, which will have put pressure on secondary school budgets.[5][6]

Figures upto 2015/16 from Institute for Fiscal Studies [7] Figures from 2015/16 are taken from the School Cuts website and the Education Policy Institue[8][9]

  1. The Education Policy Institute: School Funding Section
  2. 2018 Annual Report on Education Spending in England- IFS and Nuffield Foundation - September 2018:
  3. DFE caught adding tuition fees to school funding claims BBC 2 October 2018
  4. BBC Reality Check: Is education spending at a record level?, March 2017,
  5. 2018 Annual Report on Education Spending in England- IFS and Nuffield Foundation - September 2018, Page 29 & 33:
  6. Schools Week, Cath Murray, 28 May 2018:
  7. Institute for Fiscal Studies, Education spending, 29 September 2015
  9. The Education Policy Institute

National Funding Formula

This section does not cover the National Funding Formula in detail. NFF is a formula that is designed to share out the pot of money more fairly. There is some debate out the formula itself and how fair it actually is, as the formula works in such a way as to cut funding to some of the most deprived schools and award it to schools that are just getting by. To view detailed analysis on the NFF view this document The implications of the NFF for Schools or visit The Education Policy Institute research page

The key outcome of the NFF is that although the funding will be distributed differently, the overall pot will not change.

Consistent with an overall reduction in real resources per pupil, the Education Policy Institute estimate that there are unlikely to be any schools in England which will avoid real terms cuts in resources per pupil between 2016-17 and 2019-20, even after the national funding formula is applied. There is a considerable range in cost pressures with some schools expected to face real terms cuts of around 10 per cent, per pupil.

Around half of primary schools, and around half of secondary schools are estimated to face real terms per pupil funding cuts of between 6 and 11 per cent between 2016-17 and 2019-20, even with the additional funding and cash floors from the national funding formula.

As the level of cost increases has been assumed to be common across all school for this scenario, the distribution of real terms cuts per pupil is similar to the distribution of funding changes as a result of the NFF. Figure nn shows the estimated average level of real terms pressures per pupil across each local authority. This again illustrates that the biggest reductions in resources available will be in London and a small number of other urban areas in the North and Midlands, but highlights that in all parts of the country schools are facing reductions in the resources available per pupil over the next three years at least.

These estimated funding pressures equate to an average of £74,000 per school in primary schools and £291,000 in secondary schools between 2016-17 and 2019-20.

The majority of schools’ costs represent spending on staff costs, including teachers and support staff. Combining these averages with average salary costs, and an uplift for on costs including pensions and national insurance, suggests that if these savings were made through teacher reductions alone, almost 2 fewer teachers could be employed in the average primary school, and around 6 fewer teachers could be employed in the average secondary school. This illustrates, in terms of teacher numbers, the potential implications of the average funding pressure for schools, based on 2016-17 pupil numbers. Across the system, these per-pupil pressures arise in part because of an increase in pupil numbers.

This means that, in practice, where schools grow in size, or find savings elsewhere, they will not need to reduce their number of teachers as much as this. Nationally, the Department for Education still anticipates that the number of teachers will grow, albeit more slowly than pupil numbers, with potential implications for class sizes and contact time. In an attempt to address some of the variation in local funding levels and to address the disappointment from those who were campaigning for a new formula, the DfE increased the Dedicated Schools Grant by an additional £390m in 2015.

Since then, the per pupil units of funding for local authorities have been maintained at flat cash per pupil (with the Pupil Premium paid separately and in adddition). In 2016/17, Tower Hamlets remained the highest funded local authority, with a per pupil amount of £6906 and Wokingham was the lowest funded authority at £3991 per pupil, a difference of £2914 per pupil. These figures are lower than those shown in the previous image, due to the removal of High Needs and Early Years funding from 2013.

School Cuts Calculator

School Cuts is an unaffiliated campaign, who are non partisan. Their data and methodology are public and available on their website for anyone to interrogate and use. The use of their data on this wiki, does not indicate any allegiance to the Labour party.

School Cuts provides a by school calculator that allows the public to check how government cuts are impacting. It has a very powerful search facility where a postcode can be entered and then an interactive map of the area shows all schools. By clicking on a school a detailed breakdown of the cuts affecting that school is presented.

Data Methodology for England School Cuts use the Schools block funding allocations for 2015 / 2016 as the baseline. This gives the per pupil funding for every mainstream school. They compare these with the funding amounts from the Government’s illustration of the impact of the NFF that was realised through the COLLECT system. Funding to cover PFI costs have been removed from all sums.

They used the Office for Budget Responsibility’s estimate for inflation for the period 2015 to 2020.

They assumed that local schools’ forums would implement the National Funding Formula as the Government has recommended.

All the data is available at Andrew Baisley, 6th February 2018

Data Methodology for Wales School Cuts used Welsh government data to calculate cuts to Welsh schools over this Parliament, 2015 — 2020.

Using the 2015/16 funding as the baseline[1][2], they calculated the impact of cost increases and pupil number increases on school funding.

The website uses the following assumptions in making its calculations:

  • That inflation for schools will amount to 8.7% over the lifetime of this Parliament. This figure is in “Financial sustainability of schools” published by the National Audit Office on 14 December 2016 (page 15) and applies equally to schools in Wales and England.
  • That funding for schools in Wales increases by 2.86% over this Parliament in line with the increase in Welsh Government revenue, but that pupil numbers in Welsh schools increase by 3.68%[3] as predicted, leading to a reduction in funding per pupil over that period.
  • That the above changes in funding and pupil numbers are distributed equally among schools in Wales.

The website also assumes that Welsh councils do not provide additional funding for their schools from other areas of spending. Where any Welsh council does provide additional funding, the figures for schools in that council will be lower than our predicted figure.

All the figures are in 2016/17 prices. Andrew Baisley, 22nd March 2017

The Calculator

Enter a school name, a postcode or the first part of the postcode into the calculator to identify schools in your area. An interactive map shows the schools within area of the postcode you select. By clicking on the school a screen opens that shows you the total cuts for that school between 2015 and 2020. It also shows what that represents per pupil. As the highest proportion of costs in schools is wages, this typically means a loss of teachers. The estimate is on average 2 teachers per primary school and 6 teachers per secondary school.




Academisation has only taken hold in England with both Wales and Scotland staying with local authority controlled schools[1] 27% of primary schools and 72% of secondary schools are acadamies.Converting maintained schools to academies has cost the Department an estimated £745 million between 2010-2018. It is the stated aim of the government to convert all schools to academies[2].

  1. So why are there no academy schools in Wales?, BBC, 16 March 2016

Executive Pay

1,000 academy trusts paid a six-figure salary to at least one staff member last year.

A total of 988 trusts, the not-for-profit charities that oversee academy schools, had at least one person on £100,000 or more in 2017-18, with 146 paying £150,000 or more to at least one employee.

The proportion of trusts paying £150,000-plus salaries has risen by 20% in a year, with a 7.6% rise among those with at least one person above £100,000. The rise came despite an increase in the number of academy trusts in deficit, from 5.9 to 6.4%.

Academies are not part of nationally set pay structures so trusts are left free to set remuneration as they see fit. Most of the best-paid leaders in English schools are now trust chief executives, running groups of academies. Since last year ministers have written to 213 trusts with at least one person on £100,000 or more asking for justification. However, only 50 trusts had reduced remuneration.

One of the trusts to pay out a £150,000-plus salary was the Education Fellowship Trust based in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Last year it was in the process of giving up all its schools after it collapsed amid reported financial problems and concerns from Ofsted about low standards.[1]

Academies not being subject to nationally set pay structures are at liberty not to pass on to teachers the recently awarded 2% payrise [[citation needed]]

  1. Tally of £150,000 school academy bosses jumps by 20%, The Guardian, Warwick Mansell and Michael Savage, 28 Jul 2019:

Failing Education Standards

Two in three academy chains are “failing” pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds according to a 2018 study by the Sutton Trust.

Of the 38 underperforming chains, eight had scores which were well below the national average for disadvantaged pupils. These chains have 61 schools.

Despite the additional resources that have been directed into saving academies and setting them up, there is no evidence that they improve education outcomes. While the number of children leaving schools when they are aged 15 or 16 is rising nationally (from less than 0.1% seven years ago to 2% this year), and some large local authorities have seen rises of 4-5%, academies are losing more pupils than other types of schools (5-10%).[1]

The group includes Wakefield City Academies Trust, which was forced to hand over all its 21 schools, the University of Chester Academies Trust (Ucat) and Midland Academies Trust. [2]

  1. The Guardian view on academy schools: cracks in the system, Guardian, 6 November 2018:
  2. Two in three academy chains 'fail' poorer pupils, study finds, The Independent, 20 December 2018: Academies fail, parents despair – but the Tories say there’s no going back, The Guardian 11 Sep 2018:

Failing Academies

  • In July 2016 The Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust (LSSAT) was forced to give up its nine schools. Its accounts reveal that it used public funding to pay consultants more than £1,000 a day even as it was drawing on emergency public funding to ensure classrooms could open with basic equipment and furniture. This followed LSSAT pulling out of running Tabor Academy, in Essex, just months after it was put into special measures by Ofsted.[1]
  • In March 2017 the Education Fellowship trust, founded by Sir Ewan Harper, a key influencer of Tony Blair’s academies policy, says that it will be giving up its 12 schools. The move follows a series of damning Ofsted judgments and serious financial problems. The trust was threatened with having funding scrapped for one of its schools, the Wrenn School in Northamptonshire, by schools commissioner Martin Post in January 2017, after Ofsted inspectors rated the school “inadequate”. The school had racked up a £1.3 million deficit in 2016 – nearly four times the average deficit for secondary academies in the red.[2]
  • In November 2017 the Wakefield City Academies Trust made and announcement that it would be is pulling out of all 21 of its schools, having been plagued by questions over its finances. Revelations include the payment of more than £400,000 for services to companies connected with its chief executive, Mike Ramsey, and his daughter.[3][4]
    • DfE's Education Funding Agency revealed "extreme concern" in response to Ramsey being paid £82,000 for 15 weeks' work, and in total found 16 breaches of official guidance[5]
    • In October 2017, Wakefield City Academies Trust stood accused of asset stripping when it was reported to have transferred funds away from the schools it managed, including hundreds of thousands of pounds raised for the schools by volunteers.[6]
  • In January 2018 the Perry Beeches Academy Trust, which David Cameron once praised as “a real success story”, says it will hand over its five schools after reports of financial mismanagement. The trust paid an additional salary of £120,000 over two years to its former chief executive on top of his £80,000 annual salary.[7]
  • Bright Tribe Academy was investigated over false government funding claims. According to Panorama, Bright Tribe received £320,000 for new energy efficient lighting, but installed less than a third of the lights needed. A further £202,000 was claimed to upgrade school boilers, but moved old boilers from disused parts of the school. Many other funding issues were raised by Panorama[8][9]
  • DfE data shows that the number of primary schools transferred between academy trusts following conversion has tripled in just three years, from 39 to 121. Since 2013-14 more than 300 primary academies have been rebrokered or moved between trusts.[10]

  1. Academy trust that provided advisers for RSCs to hand over its schools to new sponsors, Schoolsweek, 24 July 2016:
  2. Education Fellowship trust gives up all 12 schools over poor performance, Schoolsweek: 10th Mar 2017,
  3. DfE gave academy trust £500k despite serious concerns about finances, Schoolsweek, 8th Mar 2019:
  4. Wakefield City Academies Trust spent £1m sacking staff
  5. 'Extreme concern' over academy trust that paid CEO £82k just three months, Independent, 4 March 2018:
  6. Collapsing academy trust ‘asset-stripped its schools of millions’, Guardian, 21 Oct 2017
  7. Doomed Perry Beeches academy trust had a £1.5 million deficit, Schoolsweek, 6th Jun 2018
  8. Bright Tribe investigated over false government funding claims, Schoolsweek, 10 September 2018:
  9. Academy chain accused of misusing government funds, BBC, 10 September 2018:
  10. More than 300 English primary schools forced to become academies, Guardian, 11 July 2019

Free Schools

Free Schools[1]


  • Free schools are new schools set up with government funding
  • Free schools are funded by the government but aren’t run by the local council. They have more control over how they do things
  • They’re ‘all-ability’ schools, so can’t use academic selection processes like a grammar school
  • Free schools can:
    • set their own pay and conditions for staff
    • change the length of school terms and the school day
    • They don’t have to follow the national curriculum

Who can set up free schools

Free schools are run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by groups like:

  • charities
  • universities
  • independent schools
  • community and faith groups
  • teachers
  • parents
  • businesses

Types of free school

University technical colleges:

  • University technical colleges specialise in subjects like engineering and construction - and teach these subjects along with business skills and using IT
  • Pupils study academic subjects as well as practical subjects leading to technical qualifications. The curriculum is designed by the university and employers, who also provide work experience for students
  • University technical colleges are sponsored by:
    • universities
    • employers
    • further education colleges

Studio schools:

  • Studio schools are small schools (usually with around 300 pupils) teaching mainstream qualifications through project-based learning. This means working in realistic situations as well as learning academic subjects
  • Students work with local employers and a personal coach, and follow a curriculum designed to give them the skills and qualifications they need in work, or to take up further education

  1. Types of School - Free Schools,

Serious Issues with Free Schools

There is conflicting accounts of how many free schools have closed, although a safe figure is 55 between 2011-18, based on research carried out by Schools Week[1]. 5% of free schools have closed and 40 approved projects failed to open. This is a serious waste of resouces and money.

Free schools often open close to present schools where they have no shortage of places. This reduces the funding for the present school. The nature of the free school system means they are not forced into opening in areas with shortages of places and so valuable resources and money are directed away from areas in serious need of investment.

5% of all free schools that have opened since 2011 have either closed completely or been transferred to different academy trusts, while more than 40 approved projects have not opened at all (although the Guardian gives this figure as 9% in another article - see ref 3). This is a massive waste of resources and money, and also the closure of a school has a huge impact on families and staff and it is the local authority that has to pick up the pieces[2][3].

The National Foundation for Educational Research and the Sutton Trust concluded in their study last year, free schools are failing to fulfil the programme’s stated aim of offering innovative and parent-led approaches. Despite this the government has pressed ahead with the scheme, promoting the opening of a further 22 free schools in 2019 going forward[4].

Free schools dramatically drain resources away from other schools and colleges. For example a 6th College in London was given the go ahead with set up costs of £45 million to serve 500 students. This while other 6th form colleges in the area that served 22,000 students were struggling for funds. There is no evidence that the existing colleges were not providing the services that the free school was set up to provide.

Closed Schools[1]

The list is supposedly the definite list from the DoE, but these is some uncertainty and disagreement. Each free school is set up from scratch, so each of the schools required the full investment of a new school rather than investing into present schools.

Dawes Lane Academy AP free school Closed
Bolton Wanderers Free School Free school Closed
Collective Spirit Free School Free school Closed
Discovery New School Free school Closed
Discovery School Free school Closed
Durham Free School Free school Closed
Floreat Brentford Primary School Free school Closed
Minerva Academy Free school Closed
Robert Owen Academy Free school Closed
Southwark Free School Free school Closed
St Anthony’s Primary School Free school Closed
St Michael’s Catholic Secondary School* Free school Closed
Stockport Technical School Free school Closed
Bradford Studio School Studio school Closed
Create Studio School Studio school Closed
Da Vinci Creative Enterprise Studio school Closed
Da Vinci Science and Engineering Studio school Closed
Devon Studio School Studio school Closed
Durham Studio School Studio school Closed
Future Tech Studio Studio school Closed
Hull Studio School Studio school Closed
Hyndburn Studio School Studio school Closed
Inspire Enterprise Academy Studio school Closed
Kajans Hospitality and Catering Studio School Studio school Closed
Manchester Creative Studio Studio school Closed
Midland Studio College Hinckley Studio school Closed
Midland Studio College Nuneaton Studio school Closed
New Campus Basildon Studio School** Studio school Closed
Plymouth Studio School Studio school Closed
Rye Studio School Studio school Closed
Stoke Studio College Studio school Closed
Tendring Enterprise Studio School Studio school Closed
The Studio School Luton Studio school Closed
Vision Studio School Studio school Closed
Black Country UTC UTC Closed
Central Bedfordshire UTC UTC Closed
Daventry UTC UTC Closed
Greater Manchester UTC UTC Closed
Hackney UTC UTC Closed
UTC Lancashire UTC Closed
Channeling Positivity AP free school Rebrokered
CUL Academy Trust AP free school Rebrokered
Atlantic Academy Free school Rebrokered
Harpenden Free School Free school Rebrokered
Hartsbrook E-Act Free School Free school Rebrokered
Parkfield School Free school Rebrokered
Royal Greenwich Trust School Academy Free school Rebrokered
University Church Free School Free school Rebrokered
Heathrow UTC UTC Rebrokered
Medway UTC UTC Rebrokered
Sir Charles Kao UTC UTC Rebrokered
Tottenham UTC UTC Rebrokered
UTC MediacityUK UTC Rebrokered
UTC Plymouth UTC Rebrokered
UTC Swindon UTC Rebrokered

  1. Fact check: How many free schools have actually closed? 25 December 2018:

Sure Start

What is (was) Sure Start

Sure Start was created and developed as a way of improving the educational and life chances of socially and economically disadvantaged children. The centres offered families access to services including childcare, healthcare, parenting classes, job skills and playgroups.[1]


By 2010, there were 3,600 centres in the UK. Before that year’s general election, the Conservative leader at the time, David Cameron, promised to protect funding for Sure Start, but this pledge quicly evaporated[1] amid swinging cuts to local authority budgets.

Over the next seven years, early years provision bore the brunt of cuts to children’s services. According to a study carried out by the National Audit Office [2], released in March 2018, Sure Start budgets in England were reduced by £763m (50%) between 2010 and 2017, as councils focused scarce funds on meeting an explosion in demand for child protection services.

According to the Sutton Trust, an education and social mobility foundation, a lack of clarity in how individual centres are identified and changes are reported means official figures of 500 closures since 2010 are likely to be an underestimate. According to study carried out by Sutton Trust research, the number of closures are 30%, not 14% as reported by the government, with closures more likely exceeding 1000 centres.[3]

After 2010, the budget for Sure Start was no longer ring-fenced, but merged with other programmes. By 2013, national guidance on the ‘core purpose’ of children’s centres shifted focus to targeting ‘high need’ families, rather than open access to universal services.

  • The national database recorded a 14% drop in centre numbers between 2009 and October 2017. However, there is no clear definition of a ‘children’s centre’ and therefore many closures announced locally were not yet reflected in the database: our survey showed a 16% drop. If we only count ‘registered centres’, the drop since 2009 was more than 30%, suggesting that more than 1,000 centres nationally might have closed.
  • By 2017, sixteen authorities closing 50% or more of their centres accounted for 55% of the total number of closures nationally. Six authorities (West Berkshire, Camden, Stockport, Bromley, Oxfordshire and Staffordshire) had closed more than 70% of their centres. Despite this reduction, the proportion of centres in the 30% most disadvantaged areas remained constant from 2009 to 2017 at just over 50%. So, numbers dropped but the focus on disadvantaged areas remained.
  • More centres operate on a part-time basis only and the number of services has fallen. While most centres still offer open access services to families of all backgrounds, these have been reduced, restricted to fewer centres or to fewer sessions. Six out of ten local authorities reported most centres were open full-time; but few or none were open full-time in almost one in five authorities. Reduced services were reported by 55% of local authorities, with only 35% providing a range of ten or more services.
  • Financial pressures came top in 84% of local authorities as a principal driver of change in recent years. This financial squeeze since the removal of ring-fencing is intensifying, with 69% of authorities reporting a budget decrease in the last two years.
  • Change of focus’ came a close second (80%) as a driver of change. This was not just a move towards greater targeting of individual high need families and away from open access. It was also a way of integrating children’s centres into a wider package of ‘early help’ as part of local teams with a much wider age range (0-19), with more than 40% of authorities extending the age range to include school age children.
  • Changed national and local priorities have played a part. The suspension of Ofsted inspections and the lack of any national guidance since 2013 on the purpose of children’s centres were seen in our survey as reducing the importance of children’s centres. The effect was to reduce the strength of children’s centres in local authority priorities.

Teachers and Teaching

Teacher Numbers[1]

The number of teachers saw a growth from 2011 until 2016 when the number of teachers working in the profession levelled off. 2017 saw a slight drop in the number , while 2018 saw a small increase in Primary school teachers and a small drop in the number of Secondary school teachers (Figure 1). The government has invested a large part of its budget to training new teachers, but very little to the retention of current teachers.[2]

Figure 2 shows the increase in teachers entering the profession has been pretty much equally matched by those leaving the profession. This had resulted in a younger and less experienced profile for the workforce overall, with a marked decrease in the number of retirees making up a decreasing number of those leaving the profession.[3] In actual numbers 44,600 teachers entered the profession in 2018 (representing approx 9.8% of the overall number of teachers) while 42,100 left the profession.

Of the teachers who qualified in 2017, 84.7% are still in service one year after qualification. This retention rate is slightly lower than the previous year when the one-year retention rate was 85.1%. Of the teachers who qualified in 2013, 67.7% are still in service after 5 years. This is lower than the five-year retention rate seen in the previous year, when the figures was 68.5%. In general, retention rates have declined slightly in each year over the last 10 years.[4]

It is difficult to identify exactly what it costs the government to train a teacher as their are so many different training routes. The average seems to be on the £30,000 mark, with interestingly those costing the government the most being the least likely to remain in teaching after 5 years.[5] Based on the cost per new teacher, the government is spending approximately £1.3 billion a year of the education budget on teacher training and yet the number of teachers in the profession is not increasing.

Class Sizes

In 2010 there was 4,096,580 in Primary education and 3,278,485 in Secondary education. The number of pupils in Primary education has increased by 630,510 since and now stands at 4,727,090. The increase per year has slowed down significantly, but has not into decline as yet[1].

Since 2010 the average size of primary schools has increased by 43 pupils, the equivalent of more than 1.5 extra classes per school.[2]

The average size of Secondary schools since 2010 has increased more slowly than Primary schools, but is now starting to gain pace as pupils move from Primary to Secondary education. The increase between 2010 and 2019 was 49,485 pupils. The increase over the next five years will be .[3]

Pupils in Special schools has increased by 6500 since 2010

Average class sizes are rising as a result of teachers leaving the profession, cuts to education spending at the same time as a rise in pupil numbers. The Department for Education revealed that 8.4 per cent of all secondary school classes now have between 31 and 35 pupils, up from 7.7 per cent last year and considerably higher than the 5.6 per cent recorded in 2014. As the number of pupils entering secondary education will increase as many pupils move up from Primary schools this figure will take a sharp up turn over the next 6 years. With 500,000 (approx 17%) additional pupils entering Secondary education, with no increase in teachers or resources, schools will struggle to deliver and will likely see an increase in teachers leaving the profession[4].

Infant class sizes have continued to rise with 95% of infants now being in a class of 30. Classes exceeding 30 stood at 2.2% in 2010 and is more than double at 4.5% (Figure 5)

  1. Schools, pupils and their characteristics as at January 2019 - Page 3,, published 27 June 2019:
  2. School and pupil numbers by school characteristics as of January 2019 (Page 4),, published 27 June 2019:
  3. Schools, pupils and their characteristics as at January 2019 - Page 3,, published 27 June 2019:
  4. Secondary class sizes rise for fourth year running, Schools Week, 27 June 2019:

Teacher Morale

Teachers in England have lowest job satisfaction of all English-speaking countries according to UCL Institute of Education (IoE) research. Fifteen of the countries where reasonable comparisons can be made – which include Israel, Sweden and the US – had “much higher” teacher job satisfaction than in England. Researchers analysed data from more than 100,000 teachers who had taken part in the most recent Teaching and Learning International Survey - including nearly 2,500 teachers from England.

"Research shows teachers become dissatisfied with work if they are not given the freedom to get on with their jobs. But teachers in England have seen a big increase in paperwork and data entry in recent years. Cutting red tape would help restore morale in the profession,” - Dr Sam Sims, Research leader at UCL IoE

Much of the issue can be put down to excessive workloads, which are driven largely by a relentless series of government reforms and severe accountability measures[1].

A survey carried out by the NUT foundh 53 per cent of teachers in England and 46 per cent in Wales said they were: “thinking of leaving the profession in the next two years.” The NUT argues that misguided government policy is increasingly the root cause of teachers’ misery and has led to this collapse in morale. The NUT survey also found that more than two-thirds of teachers felt that morale had declined in the past five years and 73 per cent felt that current policy was narrow, restrictive, and uncreative.

Research has found that there are three main motivators in work:

  • competence: does our work allow us to feel like we are good at what we do, or do we constantly feel as though we are failing?
  • autonomy: are we able to express ourselves through what we do, or do we simply feel like a pawn at the mercy of somebody else’s agenda?
  • relatedness: does what we’re doing make us feel valued and cared about in a larger sense?

These are the three areas that the Tories have undermined with lower rewards, a growing number of checks of teacher performance and a restrictive regime that does not allow teachers to teach according to needs.

A study from Virgina Tech clearly demonstrated how a system narrowly focused upon pupil achievement and standardised testing had invaded teachers’ working lives so much that they had been completely robbed of any sense of personal autonomy. As one teacher suggested: "I’m not the teacher I used to be. I couldn’t wait to get to school every day because I loved being great at what I do. All of the most powerful teaching tools I used to use every day are no good to me now because they don’t help children get ready for the test, and it makes me like a robot instead of a teacher. I didn’t need a degree to do what I do now. They don’t need real teachers to prepare children for tests and, in fact, I think they could just develop computer programmes to do this." [2][3]

  1. Teachers in England have lowest job satisfaction of all English-speaking countries, study finds, Independent, 19 September 2018:
  2. Are teachers suffering from a crisis of motivation? National Education Union, 2015:
  3. Are teachers suffering from a crisis of motivation?, The Conversation, 7 October 2015:

Teacher Pay

Teachers have seen a 10-15% drop in pay in real terms over the last since 2010 or equivalent to £4000 to £9000 for leader & classroom teachers (£4400 on average as of 2018)[1][2]. In 2019 they were awarded a 2.75% payrise, but schools were expected to find 2% of the payrise out of current budgets which is extremely difficult to carry out when schools are already struggling with funding shortages. Academies, where many are already in deficit, do not need to award the 2%, so in many cases teachers will only receive a 0.75% payrise, pushing their wages even further behind inflation[3].

Teachers and Unions are demanding a 5% rise in September 2019 to try offset the loses due to inflation. This will not bring them back to 2010 wage levels[4].

  1. School Workforce in England (page 8), November 2018
  2. Pay campaign, National Education Union, 2019:
  3. Schools face cutbacks to fund pay rise for teachers in England, Guardian, 22 July 2019:
  4. Schools staff crisis looms as austerity hits teachers’ pay, Guardian, 9 February 2019:

SEND in Crisis

The Crisis

Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) are seeing a crisis in funding. According to the Department for Education’s own figures, more than 8000 children in England with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have no education provision at all[1][2][3]. Special needs provision in England has lost out on £1.2bn because of shortfalls in funding increases from central government since 2015.

  1. SEND crisis, National Education Union, 2019:
  2. National Education Union, We need to stem the crisis in SEND,01 March 2018 by Graham Easterlow
  3. Independent Newspaper, Thousands of children with special needs do not have school places amid crisis in education funding, union warns, Eleanor Busby Education Correspondent, 1 April 2018,

Principles underlying the Code[1]

The 0-25 SEND Code of Practice describes the principles that should be observed by all professionals working with children and young people who have SEN or disabilities. These include:

  • taking into account the views of children, young people and their families
  • enabling children, young people and their parents to participate in decision-making
  • collaborating with partners in education, health and social care to provide support
  • identifying the needs of children and young people
  • making high quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people
  • focusing on inclusive practices and removing barriers to learning
  • helping children and young people to prepare for adulthood

More information on the principles that underpin the Children and Families Act and the guidance is given in Chapter 1, Principles, in the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice. This document also details the legal requirements placed on local authorities and schools, requirements they struggle to adequately meet due to funding cuts even where some education is being offered.

Sign the Petition

School Cuts have a petition demanding adequate funding to meet SEND educational needs. The text of the demand is:

The Government has a basic duty to make sure all children can access school but instead it’s failing thousands of children who just want to learn.

In our country education for every child is a fundamental expectation. We shouldn’t accept anything less. That’s why as heads, teachers, support staff and parents we’re urging you to:

  • Properly fund SEND in all schools/colleges, ensuring no child has to wait for a place in school
  • Give funding back to local authorities so they can commission SEND support and services in line with what children in their community need

You can find the petition here. Please sign.