Most schools facing ‘unavoidable’ redundancies due to funding crisis, poll finds

‘Headteachers are having to look at every possibility given the current funding situation,’ school leader says

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 08 November 2022 08:42 GMT
Schools are facing soaring costs from pay rises, inflation and energy bills, headteachers say
Schools are facing soaring costs from pay rises, inflation and energy bills, headteachers say (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Most schools will be forced to make redundancies next year due to a funding crisis, according to a huge poll of leaders.

Headteachers have been raising the alarm over what they say is a widening gap between school budgets and spiralling costs due to rising energy bills, soaring inflation and unfunded pay rises.

In its largest poll of 11,000 school leaders in England, the education union NAHT survey revealed that most schools said they would have to make cut jobs next year.

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Two-thirds said teaching assistant numbers or hours would have to be cut, while half said the same for teachers.

Vic Goddard, a secondary school headteacher in Essex, told The Independent: “Redundancies are definitely unavoidable with no change in funding. Already done it twice. Not sure what I’ve got left to restructure.”

Pepe Di’Iasio, who runs a secondary school in Rotherham, said schools were “between a rock and a hard place” at the moment with funding pressures.

“Headteachers are having to look at every possibility given the current funding situation,” he told The Independent. The headteacher said redundancies had to be considered but stressed they were a “last resort”.

Paul Whiteman, the NAHT general secretary, said schools were being hit by a “perfect storm of costs” with energy bills, the price of resources going up and an unfunded pay rise for staff.

“With no fat left to cut following a decade of austerity, many thousands of schools are now looking at falling into deficit unless they make swingeing cuts. Education is truly in a perilous state,” he said.

His union’s poll also found 43 per cent of schools – with responses mainly from primary schools – were predicting having to cut back on admin or non-classroom staff numbers or hours next year.

Over half said they would likely have to reduce investment in equipment, such as IT kit, as well as energy consumption, according to the survey conducted between mid-September and mid-October.

The current funding settlement for schools means that by 2024/25, funding per pupil will be 3 per cent lower than 2010 in real terms, despite a huge jump in financial demands, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned earlier this year.

Secondary schools are facing budget cuts equivalent to the loss of up to four teachers under this deal, another think tank has warned.

Mr Whiteman from the NAHT union said: “Schools are finding that they have no option but to make redundancies.

“A reduction in teaching assistants and teachers will be catastrophic, leading to larger class sizes and less support for children with the greatest needs. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

Kit Andrew, a headteacher in London, told The Independent: “Things are tight; most schools are now extremely lean in terms of savings, so not much scope there.

“We are trying to maximise revenue but there’s a limit to that. We have some reserves but the unfunded pay rise will decimate that.”

He added: “No redundancies hopefully this year, but hard to tell going forward.”

The Association for School and College Leaders union ran a poll this earlier this term which found schools were considering cutting teacher numbers and making class sizes bigger in a bid to save money.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We understand the challenges facing schools driven by high inflation.said it understood the challenges facing schools driven by high inflation.”

Schools are getting a cash increase of £4bn this financial year - a 7 per cent per pupil increase in cash terms across schools and high needs - and would benefit from the energy bill relief scheme which reduces how much they need to spend on energy, the spokesperson

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