Responding to a new report published by the Education Policy Institute today (Friday 11 January), that reveals a sharp rise in the number of maintained schools in deficit, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“This report paints a stark picture – one that is all too familiar to school leaders. School leaders know there is a funding crisis in schools because they see the devastating effects of it every day; on the quality of children’s education, on teachers and staff, on school buildings and resources, and on their own mental health as they struggle to balance the books.
“EPI report that the proportion of maintained secondary schools in deficit has more than trebled since 2014, with 30.3% in deficit last year. This reflects NAHT’s own findings. In a recent poll of our members only 8% said that they did not foresee a year where they would have an untenable deficit, and almost two thirds (65%) said the reductions they have had to make have resulted in a negative impact on the performance of their school.
“While EPI’s analysis shows that some schools have reserves, that doesn’t help those schools in deficit. Money cannot just be taken from those schools that have it – we know from our own research that schools’ reserves are often all that is enabling them to make ends meet in the face of government under funding. Our most recent Breaking Point funding survey revealed that 41% of school leaders have used reserves to make their budget balance – a big decrease since 2015, when three quarters said they had used reserves. This change suggests that the reserves schools have used to keep going are beginning to be used up.
“In the Budget last Autumn, the Chancellor acknowledged that school budgets are under pressure, but he failed to find the money needed to solve the crisis. At least £2.8bn more is required every year just to maintain funding in real terms in the face of inflation, cost increases and rising pupil numbers.
“School funding is a public service cash crisis that isn’t going away. It’s a key issue for parents and voters, and until the Treasury announces more money for education, school leaders, governors, parents and others will continue to make their voices heard. Only new money from the Treasury can solve the school funding crisis.”
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