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School Libraries: Finance

Question for Department for Education

UIN 149254, tabled on 29 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made a recent assessment of the adequacy of funding for school libraries.

Answered on

5 April 2022

The department believes that all pupils deserve to be taught a knowledge rich curriculum that promotes the extensive reading of books and other kinds of texts, both in and out of school. School libraries complement public libraries in helping pupils to do this.

Schools in England have the flexibility to make their own decisions on how to prioritise their spending to invest in a wide range of activities and resources that will best support their staff and pupils. It is for individual schools to decide how best to provide and maintain a library service for their pupils, including whether to employ a qualified librarian. Many head teachers recognise the important role school libraries play in improving literacy and encouraging pupils to read for pleasure, and ensure that suitable library facilities are provided.

The government continues to deliver year on year, real terms per pupil increases to school funding in England. The total core school budget is increasing to £56.8 billion by the 2024/25 financial year, a £7 billion cash increase compared with 2021/22. Future increases in funding have been frontloaded to rapidly get money to schools, so that in 2022/23 alone, core schools funding will increase by £4 billion compared to 2021/22. This total includes a £2.5 billion increase in mainstream school funding for 5 to 16 year olds in 2022/23, compared to 2021/22. This is equivalent to an average 5.8% cash increase, or £300, per pupil, with each local authority forecast to see at least a 4.7% increase per pupil.

Responsibility for funding school libraries is devolved in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Executive receive funding through the Barnett formula in line with the principles set out in the Statement of Funding Policy. It is for the Northern Ireland Executive to allocate their funding in devolved areas as they see fit.