Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“It is right that more funding should be targeted at disadvantaged pupils than advantaged ones. All children should have the same chance to succeed in life, regardless of their background. That requires funding to be divided fairly rather than equally, according to need.
“Unfortunately this only works if there is enough money in the system in total. At the moment all children are being short-changed by the government’s real-terms cuts to education funding since 2010 (the cut-off point for IFS’ report). You can divide too little however you want, it’s still too little to make a difference.
“Vital interventions that could improve social mobility have disappeared in recent years, as not only school funding has been cut, but health and social services have also been severely reduced. Schools are not able to get the support they need for their most vulnerable students.
“The Treasury must release more money for schools and health and social services if the government is serious about improving social mobility and closing the advantage gap.
“It is also important that money is targeted where it will make the most difference. Early intervention is crucial. If children fall behind during the early years it can prove difficult, often impossible, for them to catch up later, even with additional help. It is therefore obvious that the most cost-effective way to improve educational outcomes for all children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is by investing in early years education.”