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Finance & resources

NGA responds to budget 2021


In today’s (27 October) budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced commitments that will total £4.7 billion of investment by 2024-25 including:

  • That funding per pupil will be restored to 2010 levels – an increase of £1,500 per pupil
  • £1.8 billion extra for catch-up over the next three years
  • £2.6 billion funding to create 30,000 school places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities

This is in addition to previously announced decisions:

  • Freeze on public sector workers pay lifted – with a return to recommendations by independent pay review bodies
  • £1.6bn to roll out new T-levels for 16 to 19 year olds over the next three years
Responding to the Government’s 2021 Budget, Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governance Association said:

“NGA is relieved to see the level of school funding in England returning to 2010 levels; the cuts of the past decade have caused many governing boards to struggle to balance their school’s or trust’s budget. Today’s announcement should provide more certainty for school budgets in the short term but lacks the investment needed for pupils to truly thrive in the long term. Over half (56%) of governors and trustees responding to NGA’s annual governance survey 2021 said they are not sufficiently funded to deliver their long-term vision and strategy to meet the needs of pupils.

Restoring teacher and leadership pay to previous levels, and lifting the wage of the lowest paid workers, should be viewed as integral to the strategy for recovery and workforce retention. While welcoming the end of the public sector freeze, NGA has concerns as to how pay rises might be funded by all schools.

We are of course pleased to see some additional funding announced for ‘catching up’ post-COVID; however, this level of investment is significantly less than the Government’s former education adviser Sir Kevan Collins recommended and is not proportionate to the Prime Minister’s rhetoric about education. We will be looking to see how this is focused on more disadvantaged communities and pupils where ‘learning loss’ tends to be concentrated. Schools should have flexibility over how to use their funding: they know their pupils best. Governing boards have a crucial role holding leaders accountable for ensuring resources close the gaps, which have existed for many years but have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The emphases on early years, SEND and skills are welcome: funding must be commensurate with the aspirations. We encourage the Secretary of State for Education to publish the SEND review without further delay. Our annual survey also shows that pupil mental health and wellbeing is the top strategic priority for governing boards and NGA wanted to see more investment in vital mental health support services."