Budget: how parents want additional education funding to be spent

28 October 2021
On the day the Chancellor unveiled his Autumn Budget, Parentkind’s Annual Parent Survey 2021 reveals new research on what parents think extra funding for schools should be spent on.

More than half (55%) of parents now agree that pressures on school budgets are negatively impacting on their child’s education, and this figure is an increase on both 2018 and 2019 findings (the question was not asked in 2020). Families eligible for free school meals (34% versus 12%) and with a child with SEND (37% versus 10%) were much more likely than other parents to report a significant negative impact, showing that the most disadvantaged families or those needing the most additional support have disproportionately felt the impact of squeezed school budgets. Chancellor Rishi Sunak today pledged £1.8 billion of extra education recovery funding across the next few years to make up for the disruption to children’s education caused by the pandemic, as well as an extra £4.7 billion of school funding by 2024–25. Parentkind welcomes this news, but the charity’s research reveals that parents already view additional funding as urgent.

When it comes to what more funds should be spent on, parents have clear priorities. Selecting up to five options, the most popular was learning resources such as text books and science equipment (chosen by 47%). More than two in five (41%) selected child mental health services, reflecting parents’ growing concern about the impact of the pandemic and the education system on their child’s mental health and wellbeing. The next preferred choice (41%) was IT equipment. Beyond the top three, parents want to see more spending on extracurricular resources such as school trips, sports facilities and outdoor learning spaces. 

Although the Chancellor’s announcement on education recovery spending falls short of the £15 billion suggested by Sir Kevan Collins, we welcome any additional spending on education. Consideration should be given to the cohorts who will leave school before the boost in budgets filters through, since parents have consistently told us for years that they are concerned at how stretched school budgets are impacting on their children’s school experience. Lost learning during the pandemic has regrettably exacerbated their fears. It’s right that the Chancellor has pledged that funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities will be more than tripled, because our research has found that parents of children with SEND have struggled disproportionately to ensure their child receives the education they are entitled to and deserve. We urge policymakers to consult with parents about how the pot of education recovery funding should be spent, giving them a say in their children’s futures.”

John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind

About the Research

Fieldwork Dates

3 June – 19 July 2021


3,751 parents from England (3,000), Northern Ireland (251) and Wales (500) who have at least one child aged 4–18 attending state school representative of the parent population by gender, age, social grade. Sub-samples in Wales and Northern Ireland are boosted to achieve a large enough base of respondents to compare findings across the nations. In 2021 the entire sample was more than doubled from a previous count of 1500, retaining the same proportional balance between nations, in order to ensure even more robust samples in NI and Wales. The survey was conducted online by fieldwork agency Dynata (formerly Research Now). Respondents were recruited through Dynata’s UK panel (which includes more than 500,000 active panelists) and were given a small incentive to take part in the survey.