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Schools in Norfolk ‘on their knees’ as funding per pupil drops

Spending per pupil in Norfolk’s school has dropped significantly in real terms, according to an analysis of figures from the Department for Education.

In 2018/19, Norfolk County Council will spend £53 less on each pupil than last year, after the figures are adjusted for inflation.

School classroom.
School classroom.

Teachers say that schools across the county are “on their knees”, warning that funding cuts are causing “untold damage” to children and young people’s education.

In 2017/18, spending per pupil in Norfolk was the equivalent of £4, 423, in real terms. This financial year, that figure is £4,383 – a drop of 1.2 per cent.

In England, per-pupil spending has fallen by one per cent in real terms, from £4,573 in 2017/18 to £4,528 this year.

The annual schools’ budget details how much each council plans to spend on education over the financial year.

The money comes directly from the Government in the form of a centralised grant – in Norfolk, the allocated budget for 2018/19 is £530.9 million.

The spending per pupil figure covers all the costs of education – from teacher salaries to textbooks.

The Department for Education said that school funding in England will rise to a record £43.5 billion by 2020, and that funding for pupils with additional needs has risen from £5 billion in 2013 to over £6 billion this year.

“We know we are asking schools to do more,” said a DfE spokesman.

“That’s why the Education Secretary has set out his determination to work with the sector to reduce cost pressures, including things like stationery, energy and water bills.”

He added: “There is more money going into schools than ever before.”

The National Education Union said that the DfE’s claim is “disingenuous”, “misleading to parents” and “insulting to schools”.

NEU’s joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “It ignores the impact of inflation and the increase in student numbers.”

“Schools are on their knees,” she said.

“They need significant investment to reverse the cuts of the last three years, address historic underfunding of some areas and tackle the crisis in school funding for pupils with special needs.”

The National Education Union said that funding cuts have led to subjects like dance and drama being cut from the curriculum, and that many schools are also cutting back on after-school clubs.

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