IFS: Parties’ spending plans leave 16 to 18 education with 10% less than schools

General election manifesto plans of all three major parties’ proposals will leave spending for 16 to 18-year-olds around 10 per cent lower than secondary schools, according to new analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The think tank says that while the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats are all proposing to spend more on this age group over the course of the next parliament, only Labour’s spending plans will result in a real-terms increase.

The other two parties would, meanwhile, do enough to keep per-pupil spending for 16 to 18-year-olds constant in real terms.

And the IFS also says that although the Labour and Conservative proposals for sixth form funding “would represent larger increases” than their commitments on schools spending, “all would leave spending per 16 to 18 year-old pupils around 10 per cent lower than the parties’ respective proposals for secondary schools”.

The IFS said: “The Conservative manifesto.. would effectively result in a real-terms freeze in 16-18 spending per pupil over the next parliament.

“This has a similar effect to the Liberal Democrats’ proposal to protect per pupil funding of schools and colleges in real terms.”

However, the IFS added, these plans would still leave spending per pupil on 16 to 18 year olds in 2021-22 around 14 per cent below its peak in 2011-12.

It added: “In the case of the Conservatives, because plans for 16-18 education are slightly more generous than those for schools, the gap between 16-18 education and secondary school spending per student would shrink slightly from its current level of 13 per cent to around 10 per cent in 2021–22.”

Labour’s proposals would, according to the IFS, increase 16-18 spending per pupil to £5,800, a real increase of 8 per cent over the parliament.

But “this would still leave spending per student in 16-18 education about 11 per cent below that for secondary schools in 2021–22”.

According to the IFS, spending on 16 to 18-year-olds has “fared substantially worse” than other areas of education funding.

Spending per 16 to 18-year-old pupil in 1990-91 was more than 50 per cent higher than spending per secondary school pupil, but by 2017–18 it was 13 per cent lower. This decline was the result of deeper cuts in the 1990s, slower growth in the 2000s, and being one of the only areas of education spending to be cut under the coalition government, the IFS says.

It also looked at costings for new T-levels, set to result from last year’s wide-ranging review of technical education by Lord Sainsbury.

It said: “In Budget 2017, the Conservative government committed to following the recommendations of the Sainsbury review for post-16 education.

“These reforms would introduce ‘T-levels’ for technical education – slimming down the thousands of vocational qualifications currently on offer to 15 different lines of learning – and increase the number of teaching hours on some technical routes by more than 50 per cent.”

It recognised that the Conservative government committed £420 million of additional investment in 2021-22 for the implementation of these reforms.

The spokesperson added “If, after the Spending Review period, spending per pupil would – excluding the additional £420 million – have been frozen in cash terms between 2019-20 and 2021-22 (as was the case between 2010-11 and 2019-20), then total spending per pupil including the extra £420 millon would be about the same real-terms level in 2021-22 as it is today.”


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