One in three headteachers cut back on staff due to school funding pressures, survey says

Eleanor Busby

More than a third of headteachers have had to cut back on teachers due to a squeeze on funding, a survey from a school leaders’ union suggests.

Almost two in three (65 per cent) school leaders strongly feel that cuts have negatively affected school performance, a report from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) found.

And more than a fifth (21 per cent) of headteachers say they had budgets in deficit this academic year - a 13 percentage point increase since 2015.

The NAHT survey of nearly 600 school leaders found that 37 per cent have reduced the number, or hours, of their teaching staff.

And only 8 per cent said they did not foresee a year where they would have an untenable deficit.

The new findings come after The Independent exclusively revealed this month that four in five headteachers have been forced to cut back on teaching assistants.

And more than eight in 10 school leaders said the additional needs of children had led to significant financial pressure on their school, The Independent revealed.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “School budgets are at absolute breaking point. No school is immune. Primary and Secondary, Academy and Local Authority, mainstream and specialist; the entire state-funded school system is rapidly heading towards insolvency.”

Parents and school staff are expected to take part in two rallies in Birmingham and Brighton tomorrow to ramp up the pressure on the Government to increase school funding.

Headteachers will put up banners at the school gates spelling out the cuts they are facing as part of a campaign from Save Our Schools.

Mr Whiteman added: “It is clear that parents will not tolerate school standards slipping and that they are concerned for their children’s future. These figures ought to be ringing serious alarm bells with the Government.”

During Prime Minister's Questions, Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, said: “Classrooms are being starved of resources that they need – including textbooks and basic stationery – at the same time approximately 40,000 children in the South East are relying on food banks.

“If the Prime Minister was a teacher – who had been under a pay cap for eight years – what would she buy a struggling child in one of my city’s classrooms? A textbook or a square meal?”

Theresa May replied: “Actually the amount of money we are spending on schools is greater than it has ever been before.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, standards are rising in our schools.

"By 2020, core school funding will rise to a record £43.5bn – the IFS has confirmed that by then per pupil funding will have increased more than 70 per cent since 1990.

"Latest figures show schools hold surpluses of more than £4bn and we are providing support to help them get the most out of every pound they spend.”