Belfast Telegraph

Cuts in spending on Northern Ireland school kids biggest in UK in past decade

More than £1,000 more spent on children in Scotland

New analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies reveals an 11% cut in spending per pupil in Northern Ireland.
New analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies reveals an 11% cut in spending per pupil in Northern Ireland.

Spending on Northern Ireland school children per head is the lowest in the UK and has been slashed by a greater margin than in England, Scotland and Wales in the past decade, new research has revealed.

New analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found an 11% cut in spending per pupil since 2009.

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

The IFS also said pupils in Northern Ireland received the lowest education spending per head in the UK in 2018-19 at £5,500 - over £1,000 lower than those in Scotland.

On Friday, the DUP leader Arlene Foster welcomed news of a £500m cash boost for Northern Ireland's education sector.

The additional funding - to be spent over the next three years - comes as a consequence of education funding announced by Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week.

However, more details are unlikely to be announced until the Chancellor Sajid Javid delivers his spending review.

It comes in addition to the extra education spending negotiated for Northern Ireland as part of the DUP's confidence and supply pact with the Government.

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

"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."

"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."

In England, the increased education funding will be focused on the special needs sector.

Arlene Foster said she will meet with senior officials at Northern Ireland's Department of Education to urge them to do the same.

"I have asked to meet the permanent secretary in the Department of Education to press for special needs to be prioritised in Northern Ireland too," she said.

The IFS report also accounted for other studies in education funding, including those carried out by the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said in July that a lack of funding was having a devastating impact on schools. Principals told MPs they were having to rely on donations from parents with one head saying parents had offered toilet rolls.

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