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News archive - November/December 2017

Fewer schools and less education spending since 2012

Total spending on education by central and local government has fallen by 2.3% in real terms between 2012 and 2017 and now stands at £86.3 billion. Since 2001, the number of schools has fallen by 2,602.

The figures are contained in a report from the Department of Education, which shows that as a percentage of GDP, government expenditure on education has decreased over the period from 2012/13 to 2016/17 from 4.9% to 4.5%. While the majority of education expenditure in 2016/17 is delivered through local government (53.0%), this share has decreased in the last five years (down from 59.2% in 2012/13).

The distribution of government funding across the phases of education has remained broadly similar over the past five years. The share of total government expenditure on primary education (32.1%) is at the same level as in 2012/13. The share of total government expenditure on secondary education (46.5%) has risen over the same period from 44.8% in 2012/13. Following the fundamental changes in university funding, there has been a decrease in the share of the total government expenditure on tertiary education (from 9.8% in 2012/13 to 7.4% in 2016/17). In 2016/17, secondary education received the largest share of the total (44.8%) followed by primary (32.1%).

The total number of schools across the UK has decreased by 29 (0.1%) in the last year. This contributes to a total decline of 288 schools (0.9%) since 2012/13 and a decline of 2,602 schools (7.5%) since 2000/01. The fall in school numbers from 2015/16 is shown across most types and phases of school, with the exception of middle schools (introduced in Wales in 2012/13) and nursery schools. From 2012/13 to 2016/17 a similar trend is shown for most school types, with the exception of secondary schools that have increased by 91 (2.2%) to 4,168, driven by an increase in secondary schools in England only. The number of primary schools decreased by 144 (0.7%) over the period 2012/13 to 2016/17. There are now 32,113 schools in the UK, of which 76 per cent are in England.