03 September 2019
A new report from Cambridge Assessment investigates whether there was empirical evidence of a relationship between falls in per-pupil funding and Local Authority Maintained schools in England reducing their subject offer. Analysis of data for 2011-2017 from the National Pupil Database and Local Authority information found no evidence that schools reduced their subject offering in reaction to changes to their funding.
Previous research by some teaching unions, however, has found that a "high proportion" of schools reported dropping specific subjects in response to funding changes, though the authors of this new report stress that it does not directly contradict those findings. Instead, the research found that schools that have not experienced funding reductions are at least as likely to have reduced their subject offer, indicating that other influences on school’s decisions with regard to provision may exist.
The report’s author, Tim Gill, said: "Schools which have decided to reduce subject offer in the past may have been more likely to respond to surveys asking about the effects of funding on curriculum choice. It may also be that schools will wait longer than the timeframe used in the new research to see if funding levels continue to fall before making decisions about reducing subject offer. This latest report serves as a strong base for future analysis."
Data on academy schools and independent schools was not analysed because the financial data for these schools was not available.