To ask His Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the impact of inflation on (1) school budgets, (2) the cost of uniforms, (3) classroom staff, (4) extra-curricular activities, (5) schools' energy bills, (6) school meals, and (7) the costs for parents associated with their child’s education.
22 December 2022
Schools will receive an additional £2 billion in each of 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years as a result of the 2022 Autumn Statement. The core schools budget, which covers schools’ day-to-day running costs, including schools’ energy bills and the costs of providing income-related free school meals, has risen from £49.8 billion in 2021/22 to £53.8 billion in 2022/23 and will continue to rise to £57.3 billion in 2023/24 and £58.8 billion in 2024/25. By 2024/25, funding per pupil will have risen to its highest ever level in real terms. These increases provide support to schools to deal with the impact of inflation on their budgets.
From October 2022 to 31 March 2023, schools will benefit from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. This provides a price reduction to protect schools from excessively high energy bills over the winter period.
The department is clear that school uniforms should be affordable. No school uniform should be so expensive that pupils or their families feel unable to apply to or attend a school of their choice. In November 2021, the department issued statutory guidance on the cost of school uniforms to ensure the cost of school uniforms is reasonable. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cost-of-school-uniforms/cost-of-school-uniforms. Governing boards should be compliant with much of the guidance by September 2022 and fully compliant by summer 2023.
Teachers’ pay is reviewed on an annual basis by the independent School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which considers the current economic climate. Pay awards this year provide a careful balance between recognising the vital importance of teachers, whilst delivering value for the taxpayer, and being careful not to drive inflation. The department has implemented the STRB’s recommendation of an 8.9% pay uplift to teacher starting salaries outside London in 2022/23, bringing them up to £28,000. The department has also implemented the STRB’s recommendation of a 5% pay uplift for experienced teachers and leaders in 2022/23. This is the highest pay award for experienced teachers in 30 years. Teachers and other classroom staff will also benefit from wider government cost of living support announced for households.
The department supports a range of initiatives to increase access to high quality extra curricular activities. This includes investing £3.4 million between 2021 and 2024 to support the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to expand into more schools in the most disadvantaged areas of the country and investing over £200 million a year in the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme. HAF provides free holiday club places with activities and healthy food for children from low-income families during the summer, Easter, and Christmas school holidays. Additionally, both pupil premium and recovery premium can be used to fund extra-curricular activities.
The government spends over £1 billion annually delivering free school meals (FSM) to pupils. Around 1.9 million disadvantaged pupils are eligible for free school meals (FSM) as well as an additional 1.25 million infants who receive a free meal under the Universal Infant Free School Meal (UIFSM) policy. Core schools funding has increased, which includes the FSM factor in the National Funding Formula £470 per eligible pupil this year. Universal Infant Free School Meal funding has also been uplifted to £2.41 per meal per child in June 2022 and backdated to 1 April 2022 in recognition of the cost pressures faced by schools.
The government has announced further support, worth £26 billion, for next year. This is designed to target the most vulnerable households and families. This is on top of the £37 billion cost of living support provided by the government this year.