Northern Ireland

NI faced highest cuts to school spending in UK, says IFS

Photo of all kids putting hands up - stock photo Image copyright Getty/gpointstudio

Northern Ireland has faced the highest school spending cuts per pupil in the UK over the past decade.

That is according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), one of the UK's leading economic research institutes.

Northern Ireland has seen an 11% cut in real-terms school spending per pupil since 2009, new IFS analysis suggests.

That compares to cuts of 8% in England, cuts of 6% in Wales and cuts of 2% in Scotland.

However, on Friday the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced billions of extra money for English schools over the next three years.

BBC News NI understands that due to the Barnett formula, that is also likely to mean some extra money for education in Northern Ireland.

'£500m extra for education in NI'

However, when contacted by BBC News NI, Downing Street said that more details of any extra education funding for Northern Ireland were unlikely to be revealed until Chancellor Sajid Javid announces his spending review.

The DUP leader Arlene Foster said, though, that Boris Johnson's announcement would lead to £500m extra for education in Northern Ireland over the next three years.

"I have already spoken with the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson who has confirmed that there will be a Barnett consequential for Northern Ireland of £500m," she said.

"This is a much-needed boost for education resource funding over the three years starting from 2020/21," she added.

The IFS figures and analysis are contained in its latest report on education spending in England, which was published before the prime minister's funding announcement.

The IFS also looked at school spending across the UK over the past decade.

Image copyright Getty Images

"Across the whole period, school spending per pupil is consistently highest in Scotland and lowest in Northern Ireland," the IFS report said.

"In England, a largely constant budget in real terms translated into cuts in spending per pupil as a result of population growth."

"In Northern Ireland, the total budget fell in real terms, meaning that population growth led to even larger cuts in spending per pupil."

The IFS also said that pupils in Northern Ireland received the lowest education spending per head in the UK in 2018-19.

"Total school spending per pupil was about £6,600 in Scotland in 2018-19."

"This is £600 higher than spending per pupil in England (£6,000), with spending per pupil in Wales £200 lower at £5,800."

"Spending per pupil was lowest in Northern Ireland, at £5,500 per pupil."

The IFS analysis reflects other recent studies of school funding in Northern Ireland, including by the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

In July, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee also said that a lack of funding was having a devastating impact on schools.

Related Topics

More on this story