It is vital that data and information on school funding published by the Department for Education are presented clearly and not open to misinterpretation. In light of enquiries we have received around the Department’s recent funding announcement “Prime Minister boosts schools with £14 billion package” we are setting out our view. This follows our previous letter to the Department on its education funding statistics.
We recognise that the Department’s statement is supported with appropriate context. The £14 billion is a cumulative figure in cash terms over three years of funding to 2022/23, compared to 2019/20 funding levels. The £14 billion figure is calculated by adding together and then rounding increases of £2.6 billion in 2020/21, £4.8 billion in 2021/21, and £7.1 billion in 2022/23. It is not adjusted for inflation and represents the total increase in expenditure in cash terms across these years. It does not mean that the annual budget in any year will increase by £14 billion.
We are satisfied that the publicly available material contains this context and that what the figures represent is reasonably explained.
There is however a risk that the figures could mislead: for example, people who read no further might expect that the headline figure of £14 billion refers to an annual increase.
We therefore encourage the Department and Ministers to continue to provide appropriate context when making statements on school funding.
We will be undertaking further work with a view to publishing our expectations more broadly on best practice in describing public spending.
Notes to Editors
The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics.
For more information please contact 020 7592 8659 or 020 3741 1742, by email, or visit the OSR website.