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Almost Half Of School Leaders Are Considering Staff Cuts Due To Budget Constraints, New Poll Finds

School leaders have warned some job cuts could be necessary to balance budgets

3 min read

A significant number of school leaders are considering the possibility of making cuts to staff as a result of inflation, energy costs and pay rises for staff placing unsustainable pressure on school budgets, a new survey has shown.

New figures released by TeacherTapp, which polled 1,400 senior school leaders, found that 42% of school leaders felt staff cuts could be needed to help balance school budgets because government funding is not keeping up with costs.

Earlier this year government announced a pay deal for teaching staff, with early career teachers offered an average 8% rise, with a 6.4% lift for mainscale teachers, and an increase of up to £2,000 for teaching assistants.

But senior leaders warned that inflation energy costs and changes to teacher contracts had already increased cost pressure on school budgets, with 42% of school leaders saying they would now have to consider staff cuts to help stay on budget.

The polling found school leaders estimated the pay rises would cost average primary schools £96,000, rising to £224,000 for secondary schools.

Over half (59%) warned the school budget provided by the government would not cover their costs, with a further 29% saying the weren't sure whether they would be able to afford the rise.

It is expected the cuts would most likely fall on teaching assistants, which polling from June found were already being scaled back in nearly half of all schools.

The loss of teaching staff would especially impact schools with a higher proportion of pupils with additional needs, where more assistants are often hired to help provide support.

According to TeacherTapp, many school leaders asked about areas where they could reduce costs responded: "There's nothing left I can cut."

Others reported cuts to curriculum resources, such as textbooks and stationery, could also be made. Building and maintenance work and school trips also face the chop.

The figures also found a worrying trend in the number of teachers struggling with the cost of living, with just 20% of those who have their own children reporting they were living comfortably on their salaries, compared to 31% who agreed with the sentiment in 2019.

The number of those saying they were "scraping by" on their incomes has also risen from 18% to 23% over the same period.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We recognise that schools – much like the wider economy – are facing increased costs, including on energy and staff pay.

"To support schools, budgets will rise by £7 billion by 2024-25, compared with 2021-22, with the total core school budget increasing to £56.8 billion.

"In the current financial year alone, core school funding is rising by £4 billion compared to the previous financial year, a 7% cash terms per pupil increase. A recent IFS report noted that this will mean that forecast increased costs are broadly affordable for schools in 2022-23."

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