UK/October 27, 2021/ BY: By Robbie Meredith – BBC News NI Education Correspondent/Source: https://www.bbc.com/
Northern Ireland spends less on each school pupil’s education than any other part of the UK.
That is according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), one of the UK’s leading economic research institutes.
The IFS said there had been a “remarkable squeeze on school resources over more than a decade”.
New analysis from the IFS suggested that about £6,400 would be spent per pupil in Northern Ireland in 2021-22, compared to about £7,600 in Scotland.
Meanwhile, separate figures from the Education Authority (EA) show almost half of schools (48%) in Northern Ireland were in budget deficit at the end of the 2020-21 financial year.
Previous research published by the IFS in 2019 suggested that Northern Ireland had faced the highest school spending cuts per pupil in the UK over a decade.
The IFS has now updated its analysis of school funding across the UK.
In Northern Ireland, the IFS said that back-pay as a result of a delayed pay deal for teachers had led to an increase in spending per pupil over the past two years.
However, each pupil in Northern Ireland has about 3% less spent on them now than was the case decade ago.
“Across the period, school spending per pupil is consistently highest in Scotland and generally lower in Northern Ireland,” said the IFS report.
“In 2021-22, spending per pupil is expected to total £7,600 per pupil in Scotland (including COVID-related spending) and £6,400 in Northern Ireland.
“In between, spending per pupil is expected to total about £6,700 in England and £6,600 in Wales.”
The IFS acknowledged that their figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland did not include extra Covid or “catch-up” spending on schools.
However, they said that school spending per pupil in Scotland was still likely to be around £900 higher than the other nations of the UK.
“In response to the pandemic, all four nations have implemented education recovery or catch-up programmes amounting to about £200-£400 per pupil in total,” said the IFS.
“[These] are much lower than the ambitious packages announced in other high-income countries such as the US (£1,800 per pupil) and Netherlands (£2,100 per pupil).”
“In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, school spending per pupil in 2021-22 is expected to be just above or just below where it was in 2009-10.
“This is a remarkable squeeze on school resources over more than a decade.
“Squeezes in core school spending per pupil over the last decade in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will make it that much harder for schools to address the major challenges and inequalities they face in the wake of the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, figures released by the Education Authority (EA) to BBC News NI show that 478 schools were in budget deficit on 31 March 2021.
That accounted for 48% of schools, and their accumulated deficits totalled £87.3m.
By contrast, 52% of schools (515) had some money left over at the end of the financial year with a total combined surplus of £46.7m.
The EA’s figures are for controlled and maintained schools – which make up over 90% of schools in Northern Ireland – and do not include voluntary grammar schools or grant maintained integrated schools.
Finance Minister Conor Murphy has previously said some Stormont departments may face “more pain” as he prepares a three-year budget which could increase spending on health.