Schools are facing sweeping cuts if the Tories win the election, a new analysis shows today.
Funding per pupil in England will fall by nearly 3% under the Conservatives, a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reveals.
This would mean a £130 cut for every pupil in primary school and a £170 cut for every one in secondary school.
The respected economic think tank says Theresa May’s plans will result in an overall cut in school funding of seven per cent between 2016 and 2022.
By contrast, Labour’s manifesto commitment will increase the amount going to England’s primary and secondary schools by 1.6% over the next five years.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “There is now no doubt about what Tory plans mean for education – our schools will see their budgets cut.”
According the IFS the Tory promise to lift education spending by £4billion will not be enough to plug the gaps in school spending.
It says that once you take into account inflation and rising pupil numbers it will result in a 2.8% fall in funding between 2017-18 and 2021-22.
“The Conservatives have committed to ‘increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022’.
“Once you strip out inflation, this equates to a real-terms increase in the schools budget of around £1 billion compared with the level in 2017–18.
“Taking account of forecast growth in pupil this equates to a real-terms cut in spending per pupil of 2.8% between 2017–18 and 2021–22. Adding this to past cuts makes for a total real terms cut to per-pupil spending of around 7% over the six years between 2015–16 and 2021–22,” the IFS says.
Theresa May is under mounting pressure from Tory MPs to abandon her new school funding formula that leave a third of schools serving more than 2million pupils will face cuts.
Union leaders have warned the proposed cuts will “put the stability of the whole education system at risk.”
More than 500 heads signed a letter to the Prime Minister, published in the Mirror, calling on her to rethink the plans.
They said that to make ends meet “head teachers will be forced to make staff redundant, cut subjects, increase class size and cut back on extracurricular activity.”
The heads told how staff are having to beg parents for cash to help them provide basic educational materials and they were facing an impossible task as colleagues are axed, class sizes swell and morale hits rock bottom.
The dire state of school funding was condemned this week by a former adviser to Michael Gove, the ex Education Secretary.
Sam Freedman, head of Teach First, said benefit sanctions and cuts to support were forcing teachers to feed hungry children themselves.
He wrote on Twitter: “So I’m angry. I’ve just been to a school in one of the most disadvantaged communities in the country and all their support is being cut away.”
He went on: “Benefit sanctions mean staff are having to buy food parcels, with their own money, for the kids.
“And these kids are lovely. They want to do well and be successful but they’ve got no support at home.”
The Conservatives are also facing criticism for budgeting just 7p per child for free school breakfasts.
Mrs May was branded a “lunch snatcher” after using the move to replace universal school lunches for all pupils aged five, six and seven.
The Tory manifesto pledges to scrap universal school lunches for primary kids at a cost £600million and replace them with free breakfasts, costing just £60million.
An analysis by Schools Week found that budget worked out at just 6.8p per breakfast for each of the country’s 4.62 million primary state school pupils.
Ms Rayner added: “Headteachers have warned us what the consequences will be for parents and pupils: fewer teachers, larger classes, a narrower curriculum, or even a shorter school week.
“The IFS analysis is clear: only Labour will give schools the resources they need to deliver a world-class education for the many, not just the few.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “All the main parties state that they want to improve things for pupils who come from less well-off families but their chosen methods are very different.
“Much has been made of the two most high profile Conservative Party priorities; the end of universal infant free school meals and the return of selective education.
“Ending the school meals entitlement for infants after only three years and without a proper evaluation of the project takes a much too short term view of the issue. Almost a million children will be affected.”
IFS associate director Luke Sibieta said: “The commitments made by each of the main parties would imply quite different paths for school spending in the next parliament.
“Labour would increase spending per pupil by around 6% after inflation over the course of the parliament, taking it to just above its previous historic high in 2015.
“Proposals from the Conservatives would lead to a near 3% real terms fall in spending per pupil over the parliament, taking it back to its level 2010.”
A Conservative spokesman later added: “We will ensure that all primary schools can offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school as we set out in our manifesto – independent evidence shows this is a cost-effective way to improve education and health results for pupils.”