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Schools in England have not faced the same financial pressures as many other parts of the public sector. Per-pupil spending has risen in real terms in most years since 2009/10, while the cap on pay increases for teachers has kept the wage bill down. Overall, schools have become more productive: there are more pupils per teacher, and pupil attainment has been on an upward trend – particularly at primary school level.

However, new pressure to make efficiencies has emerged particularly over the past two years, as per-pupil spending has started to fall and schools have taken on new responsibilities. And there are clear signs that an increase in workload is putting pressure on the workforce and that schools are finding it harder to recruit and retain enough teachers. This will make it harder to manage further efficiencies in the future.