Government expenditure on schools has more than doubled in real terms in the last 25 years, while student numbers have only grown by 18%. Funding for school education was 3.1% of GDP in 2012–13, and is projected to reach 3.4% by 2025 under current predictions of economic growth. Large increases in real per-student expenditure have not been accompanied by improved student achievement, and there is no reason to expect future funding increases will have a beneficial impact at the system level. There are both budgetary and educational reasons to review present and future funding for schools. Excessive education spending contributes to public debt, and governments have a duty to ensure taxpayers’ money is used in the most effective way. This report analyses funding growth trends and proposes eight ideas for reducing spending and improving productivity.
Dr Jennifer Buckingham is a Research Fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies. She has written widely on school funding, teacher education, school choice, literacy, and other education topics in CIS publications, academic journals, and in the media.