School funding

Most schools to cut staff, axe repairs and up class sizes over funding crisis

Heads reveal 'catastrophic' and 'devastating' reality of rising costs

Heads reveal 'catastrophic' and 'devastating' reality of rising costs

Most schools will likely cut staff, increase class sizes and axe building repairs over the coming years to deal with rising costs, with some secondaries facing a £500,000 hit.

A survey of 630 headteachers by the Association of School and College Leaders reveals the “catastrophic” impact of the funding crisis on schools.

Nearly all schools (98 per cent) said they would have to make savings either this year or next to meet rising costs.

Inflation and soaring energy bills mean schools face a £2 billion shortfall by 2024, previous analysis suggests.

Two-thirds of schools are considering cutting support staff or scrapping or suspending capital projects. Over half say it is likely they will reduce staff and increase class sizes or reducing the number of teaching assistants.

Cost pressures include the unfunded teacher and support staff pay rises, rising catering costs and energy bills that one sector leader described as “apocalyptic”.

Schools face costs equal to 10 teachers

Some secondary schools estimated the extra costs amounts to £500,000, the equivalent cost of employing 10 teachers.

Two in four schools were considering reducing their curriculum options, with music, drama and design and technology most likely for the axe.

One head described the situation as “Devastating. I have been here for 15 years and put my heart and soul into improving this school. It has been tough, but it has worked; this is now going to be thrown away.”

Another said it was “Catastrophic. The scale of savings required in-year is unachievable.

“Our forecast budget, which was previously positive, is now dire. We would have to fundamentally change our offer to manage. The quality of education we will be able to provide will be substantially reduced.”

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Seventeen schools (2.7 per cent) said they are considering a four-day week.

Local authority-maintained schools are required to run at least two sessions on every school day, but there is no such rules for academies.

Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, said the “future is bleak unless the government acts urgently.

“No government can claim to be serving the public interest by presiding over an education funding crisis which cuts provision and imperils standards. And no government which does so can expect to remain in power at the next General Election.”

New prime minister Rishi Sunak warned that “difficult decision” will be needed to find public spending cuts.

But Barton said it should be clear “it is simply untenable to once again sacrifice schools and colleges on the altar of austerity, as happened in the wake of the last financial crisis.

Education must not be ‘soft target for government cuts’

“Education should not be seen as a soft target for government cuts but a vital public service and an investment in the future.”

More than nine in ten schools that answered a recent survey by school leaders’ union NAHT said they will be in deficit next year unless they make “significant cuts”.

It is simply untenable to once again sacrifice schools and colleges on the altar of austerity

Union deputy general secretary Nick Brook called on new education secretary Gillian Keegan to “urgently get to grips with the reality of the situation … and make a compelling case to the Treasury for the funding so urgently needed”.

Schools Week revealed last week that some councils have as many as half their schools in deficit. Meanwhile more than 350 academy trusts recently signed a letter expressing “grave concerns” over the funding squeeze on the “viability” of their schools.

A Department for Education spokesperson said they “understand that schools are facing cost pressures”. This is why schools core funding has risen by £4 billion this year.

The six-month energy guarantee scheme will also provide “greater certainty over their budgets over the winter months.

“We are also providing schools with tools and information to help get the best value for money from their resources.”

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  1. Mrs Dawn Wilkinson -Flynn

    Once again support workers are targeted , made to feel like second class .
    I have worked extremely hard for 24 years as a pupil support assistant, running a unit to help our children cope with extreme social, emotional, mental and academic difficulties to help them achieve and cope.
    My pension was taken from me to retire and open the way for a younger person take up the vital role .
    Now you threaten the likes of me with losing my job .
    At 62 years of age and having always worked and paid all contributions I feel worthless .

  2. Ruzilda williams

    I work in a special needs school,we have a hard working staff on a low paid. Its a joke that the PM gets that big pay out if she lives another 40 years thats 5.6 million .What schools and hospitals could do with that money.Some schools are thinking of going 4 days a week,The impact of covid and no support staff.,what is the future looking like for these kids.

  3. Joshua Rowe

    It is appalling. Education is always the poor relative in government funding.

    Many schools do not have any money to pay for the huge increase in staff salaries [schools were told to budget on the basis of 2% and then, in August, this rose to between 5% – 9%].

    Many schools do not have any money to pay for the mammoth increase in energy costs. The six month government support alleviates some of the pressure but nowhere near the true cost of the increase