The government has pledged to spend an extra £1.3bn on schools in England as they respond to criticism over funding shortages.
However, rather than add extra money to the fund, the government plans to reorganise their current spending plans, with the money taken from elsewhere in the education budget.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says that the government’s decision to spend in this way represents a real-terms freeze on school budgets.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said that she realised there was a substantial level of public concern over the matter.
Ms Greening told the House of Commons this “significant investment” would help to “raise standards, promote social mobility and to give every child the best possible education”.
The IFS says the money promised is more generous than the party had pledged in their manifesto; nevertheless, between 2015 and 2020 school budgets will have suffered a real-terms decline of 4.6 per cent.
Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “This is all being funded without a penny of new money from the Treasury.
“They are not committing any new money and have not been clear about exactly what programmes they will be cutting to plug the funding back hole.”
Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union, said this was a “step in the right direction and an acknowledgement of the huge level of concern around the country on this issue”.
The issue of school funding became a major factor during the election, with school leaders and teachers’ unions pointing to figures suggesting that schools were facing a £3bn funding gap.
Under these plans, the core schools budget will rise by £2.6bn by 2020 and all schools will receive a cash-terms increase of 0.5 per cent.
The Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran said: “This is a desperate attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes.
“Schools are still facing cuts to their budgets once inflation and increasing class sizes are taken into account.”