Four in five teachers pay for school resources amid funding pressures, headteachers say

‘We are being asked to perform mission impossible’

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Friday 11 January 2019 23:56
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'I'm concerned we won't be able to meet the needs of the children anymore' Derbyshire school's headteacher explains effects of school funding shortage

Four in five teachers are using their own money to support schoolchildren amid funding pressures, headteachers have said in a survey.

Almost three in four school leaders also said they rely on parents’ financial contributions to prop up school budgets.

The poll of 2,000 headteachers showed that 72 per cent of heads are facing a deficit this school year, with nearly all saying they do not trust what the government says on budgets.

It comes after the Department for Education (DfE) was accused of breaking a promise over school funding after an analysis found that nearly 5,000 schools have seen their budgets fall.

Ministers had repeatedly claimed every school would receive a cash increase – but 87 per cent of headteachers say they have less money in real terms than last year.

The survey, from the Worth Less? grassroots campaign group of heads, also revealed that 94 per cent are having to provide services that used to be provided by the local authority.

Schools are increasingly being expected to do the work of police and health services amid government cuts, it found.

Jules White, the group’s leader and a headteacher in West Sussex, said: “Headteachers are stating unequivocally that their budgets remain in crisis and that our schools are now being asked to paper over the cracks left by other crucial support services that have been left denuded by cuts.”

He added: “As well as providing core educational services, schools are now being forced to act as an auxiliary emergency service.

“Far from being asked to do ‘more with less’ as the Department for Education suggests, we are being asked to perform mission impossible.”

The government says local authorities have been given more money for every pupil since 2017. But ministers have acknowledged that schools currently face budging challenges.

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A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school to make funding fairer across the country. Government provides this money to local authorities and they have the freedom to work with schools to allocate their budgets in a way that best suit local needs.

“Whilst the core schools and high needs budget is rising from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn by 2019-20, we do recognise the budgeting challenges schools face. That is why the Education Secretary has set out his determination to work with the sector to help schools reduce the £10bn they spend on non-staffing costs and ensure every pound is spent as effectively as possible to give children a great education.

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