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A picture of small schools in England

Illustration of a small rural school

While the funding crisis has affected all schools, small and rural schools have been particularly badly hit. Given the recent announcement of additional funding for schools, it is now more important than ever that the case is made for these schools.

Building on the work started at a fringe event chaired by Graham Frost, a head teacher from Cumbria, at this year’s NAHT Annual Conference, a survey was created to provide insight on the specific and unique challenges faced by small and rural schools, ensuring they are properly understood by the government.

The survey was sent to our members who are in small schools with 150 pupils or fewer on roll. 

Unsurprisingly, funding emerged as a major concern. Despite the respondents taking a range of actions to try and balance their budgets, with 67% reducing the number of hours of teaching assistants, the future remains uncertain for small schools. More than four in 10 respondents (42%) are concerned about the possibility of closure of their school. 

The findings also demonstrate that workload is an area of difficulty, with most teachers in these small schools leading on three or more subjects. To compound this, senior leadership teams (SLT) tend to be small, with over half (54%) of respondents not having a deputy or assistant head teacher in their school and 59% of leaders having a teaching commitment.

These figures will form part of the evidence base as NAHT calls on the government to address the specific challenges facing small and rural schools, particularly concerning the funding crisis so they can continue to thrive and play a critical role in their communities.

To read more about the findings of this survey, download the document below. 

First published 21 November 2019