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Wales lags Scotland and England on school spending per pupil

24 Oct 2021 2 minute read
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

New research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has calculated that Wales currently ranks third among the UK nations on education spending.

According to the independent think tank, Scotland spends more on pupil education than any other UK nation at £7,500 per head per year. England has the second highest spend at £6,700, followed by Wales on £6,600 and Northern Ireland at £6,400 for the current academic year.

“Over the last decade, there were cuts to school spending per pupil right across the UK,” IFS research fellow Luke Sibieta told Holyrood magazine.

“In Scotland, large recent increases mean that spending has more than recovered and core spending per pupil is now likely to be over £800 higher than in the rest of the UK.

“Despite recent increases, spending per pupil in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is still close to or just below levels seen a decade earlier.”


Josh Hillman, director of education at the Nuffield Foundation, which funded the IFS research, added that despite Scotland being ahead of the other UK nations on spending, all four countries are lagging behind comparable nations when it comes to Covid recovery spending on education.

“This IFS analysis shows that the increasing divergence in education policy between the four nations of the UK extends to school spending per pupil, where funding to support Scottish pupils has held up better than for their counterparts in the other nations,” he said.

According to the international PISA rankings which measure 15-year-olds’ ability in reading, mathematics and science, last published in 2019, England was the highest ranked UK nation with Wales the lowest performing. Scotland was in second place with Northern Ireland third.

In the 2019 Pisa report, Scotland achieved its lowest scores in maths and science since it first took part in the survey almost 20 years previously, and Sibieta said, “It is important to remember higher spending need not automatically translate into better educational outcomes.”

The next PISA rankings will be published in 2022.

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GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
2 years ago

Both those countries have more control over their taxes and economy than us. Perhaps we need more powers instead of the English stealing them off us.

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