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The shape of public spending on education

Researchers: Luke Sibieta | Dr Claire Crawford

Project overview

The level and structure of education funding in the UK has changed greatly in recent years. Further changes to schools funding in England are expected in the near future. This study will draw together expertise on school, early years and higher education funding, to achieve three aims.

First, it hopes to inform policy development on school funding reform in England by analysing what reform options might mean for different schools and areas.

Secondly, it will give a detailed account of how the school funding system has changed over the longer term. It will look at how these changes have affected the distribution of funding across schools and areas, and how outcomes might have changed as a result. A report, ‘Long-run comparisons of spending per pupil across different stages of education,’ published in February 2017 sets out these changes in detail. A presentation of this report can be downloaded here.

Thirdly, the study aims to offer a broader perspective on public education spending across the lifecycle. It will provide new estimates of how the total level of cumulative funding has changed across cohorts and how the balance has shifted across stages of education. It will also estimate to what extent public education spending is redistributive over the lifecycle.

Latest on this project


  • Luke Sibieta
    Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Dr Claire Crawford
    Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Warwick

  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.