Last week UK Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove championed the release of data showing how spending extra on schools doesn’t necessarily lead to better education outcomes.
As a Department of Education paper Improving Efficiency in Schools states, there is:
… a large variation in expenditure between the schools; ranging from just over £4,000 per pupil to over £5,000. That’s more than a £1 million difference in spending for a school with 1,000 pupils. And there are significant savings to be made, even if a school moderately reduced its expenditure. If the higher spending school illustrated in the graph (at position 90) came down to the level of the lower spending school (at position 70), they’d save £331 per pupil, or £289,294 overall (they had 874 pupils last year).
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If we look at these schools’ attainment, it is clear there is no direct link between higher spending and higher attainment. The following graph shows the same 100 schools, but also plots their exam performance (shown by the blue dots). If there was a direct link between the amount the schools spent per pupil and their performance, you would expect the blue dots to form a line following the red dots, but in fact there is no such pattern.
This research confirms the results of other studies and suggests the education debate should be refocused on making the system more efficient (eg through introducing greater parental choice and competition between schools, as Gove is promoting in the United kingdom), not on how much is spent.