Despite the recent pledge by the government to protect schools budgets, the realities of a funding system that is failing to keep up sufficiently with factors such as increasing school population, inflation and a shortage of personnel was illustrated in a report published by the Times Educational Supplement:
Councils were asked how much maintained schools have requested to borrow since the period of 2013-14, with the result being an increase in borrowing from £20m to £56.7m over 3 years, according to 137 of the 174 authorities that responded.
Furthermore, the average permitted deficit per school has almost doubled to £122,828 since 2013-14.
Following news of the Chancellor’s Spending Review confirming that per pupil funding will remain at current levels in spite of a pupil number increase, figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies warn that schools will face an average costs increase of 8% over the period of the next five years.
What this will mean for parents and pupils in the state system is a likely plateau or even drop in the quality of education provided, with funding issues and disparities meaning that education risks remaining a lottery, with quality highly dependent on location, and the system as a whole playing catch-up in order to cater to an ever-increasing student population.
The likely outcome will be a greater reliance on additional sources of educational instruction, including an increase in the use of private tuition, in order to make up for the shortcomings that risk becoming entrenched in the UK education system.
Instead of its traditional role as a supplementary factor in children’s education, utilized to hone a student’s understanding of particular areas and provide extra assurance for parents, the private tuition sector could well become an avenue that parents pursue in order to ameliorate an under-funded, under-performing state education system, and this must be a cause for alarm across the board.