School funding

Teaching assistants cut in 75% of primary schools

More headteachers cut staff amid warning primaries face 'rapid deterioration' due to funding woes

More headteachers cut staff amid warning primaries face 'rapid deterioration' due to funding woes

Three-quarters of primary schools have had to cut teaching assistants numbers, despite the continued rise in pupils with special educational needs.

The annual Sutton Trust school funding survey reveals a worsening picture for school finances. As well as staff cuts, activities are also being chopped.

Sir Peter Lampl

Sir Peter Lampl, the Sutton Trust founder, said the “erosion of schools funding coupled with rising costs is having a major impact on the ability of schools to provide the support that low-income students need”. 

“It is disgraceful that increasing numbers of school leaders are having to cut essential staff and essential co-curricular activities.”

The proportion of senior leaders reporting cuts in teaching staff (32 per cent), teaching assistants (69 per cent) and support staff (46 per cent) has risen this year.

At primary, 74 per cent of leaders said they have reduced the number of teaching assistants. This is up from 47 per cent in 2021.

Teaching assistants often provide support to pupils with additional needs.

‘Rapid deterioration’ in primary schools

Lampl added: “The situation for primary schools in particular is one of rapid deterioration, with half of them having to use funding to plug gaps that should be used for poorer pupils.”

In secondary schools, 38 per cent of leaders have cut teaching staff.

Schools in the north-east were the most likely to have reduced teaching staff (45 per cent), compared to between 16 and 36 per cent in other regions.

The proportion of schools cutting spending on trips and outings (50 per cent), alongside sports and other extracurricular activities (27 per cent) is the highest since the Sutton Trust’s polling began in 2017.

Around half of schools were not using pupil premium funding to plug gaps, according to the survey of 1,282 teachers by the National Foundation for Educational Research.

Daniel Kebede
Daniel Kebede

The government has promised to bring school funding back to 2010 levels. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said it was on track to meet the promise after recent increases meant school funding would reach £60 billion in 2024-25.

However, increased cost pressures are threatening to derail this.

The IFS has estimated that the government would have to provide £3.2 billion in extra funding to make up for the loss in the purchasing power of school budgets since 2010.

Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Successive surveys have shown that schools across the country are having to drop resources and cut staffing to the bone in order to survive. This repeatedly falls on deaf ears, however, and the government allows it not only to continue but to worsen.”

A DfE spokesperson said school funding is “the highest level ever in real terms per pupil, to support school leaders meet their costs”.

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  1. Clive Evans - Deddington Primary School

    It is not just about per pupil funding. That is what Government always says. The overall amount of funding, compared to rising costs, is lower. When so many schools are having to drastically cut back, the Government has no justification or argument to offer. Many schools are in a financial crisis and it will only get worse. This would not be the case if schools were funded adequately. The classic example is always staff pay increases coming out of existing budgets or being part funded for a limited time.

    An Oxfordshire Headteacher who once again, is cutting back TA support in school.

  2. Mrs M T Noakes

    Money was at the forefront of every purchase and innovation during my teaching career, from which I retired in 1996 at a fairly senior level.

    So what’s changed? Well, firstly the militancy of teaching unions on getting increases for teachers – without due regard to fiscal factors. Teachers’ rises are someone else’s drop in income, as taxes have to rise, or another service is cut. The rest is down to who shouts most loudly, so the gobby minority (sorry, the vocal few) usually prevail.

    I used to be a member of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, but it was taken over by “the Nuts” who insisted it had “merged” with them. I joined for ATL’s non-militancy stance, but we all know what happened when the outfit became the NEU. I resigned when harassed to go to the conference of the black teachers section. The what? A teacher is not defined by colour, just as students are not, and I have plenty of experience in a mixed race school.

    So if schools are having to cut services because of lack of money, then people like Daniel Kebede of the NEU (what happened to the two joint General Secretaries, one of whom was new-leftie, Mary Bousted, ex-ATL?) wants to shout militantly, he needs only look at his union’s stance and its fight with the Government on everything to find the answers.