Spending on Scottish pupils falls by over £1bn in 7 years

Labour's education spokesman Iain Gray said 'We should be investing in our young people.' Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Labour's education spokesman Iain Gray said 'We should be investing in our young people.' Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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Spending per pupil in Scotland has fallen cumulatively by over £1 billion since the SNP formed a majority government in 2011, analysis by Scottish Labour has claimed.

Official figures show that school spending per pupil across all ages since 2010 has gone down, in real terms, by £489 at primary level and by £152 at secondary level.

The figures were taken from the “Local Government Benchmarking Framework” document. The document said the real terms reduction of £489 per primary pupil, representing a 9.4 per cent cut which reflected a 2.9 per cent fall in real gross expenditure.

This took place at the same time there was a 7.1 per cent increase in pupil numbers.

For secondary schools the real terms reduction of £152 per pupil was accompanied by a 6.4 per cent reduction in pupil numbers. However the drop in gross expenditure had been proportionately larger at 8.4 per cent.

Labour’s analysis, which was disputed by the Scottish Government, suggested that if pupil spend remained at 2010/11 levels, primary schools would be £726 million better off in total and secondary schools would be £308m better off.

When the two sums are added together, they suggest the Scottish Government has overseen a fall in investment of more than £1bn.

Iain Gray, Labour’s education spokesman said: “The SNP have never understood that failure to invest in education is a failure to invest in our greatest resource – our young people.

“For Scotland’s economy to thrive we have to give our young people the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. We should be investing more in our young people, not less. 

“Instead, under the SNP, there are 4,000 fewer teachers and 1,000 fewer support staff, while income tax for the top 15 per cent has been frozen.”

Larry Flanagan the General Secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland 
(EIS) called on all political parties to work together to mitigate the effects of education cuts.

Mr Flanagan said: “We are very clear that the politics of austerity and the budget-cutting agenda have had a significant impact on support for education across the country.

“Teacher and support staff numbers have declined, while school resource budgets have been cut with serious implications for learning and teaching.

“After many years of cuts to education, it is time for all political parties – at local authority, Scottish and UK Government levels – to work together to deliver enhanced support for our comprehensive education system.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that pupil spend in cash, rather than real terms, had increased 10.8 per cent (the equivalent of £474) for primary pupils since 2006-07 and 13.1 per cent (the equivalent of £800) for secondary pupils since 2006/07.

A spokesman said: “The average spending per pupil has actually increased by more than 10 per cent for both primary and secondary pupils since 2006-07.”