Two-thirds of secondary schools forced to cut teachers, new poll warns
Ministers have been urged to re-examine funding for schools after fresh polling revealed that two in three secondary heads have been forced to let teachers go.
Slashed school budgets have led to 69% of secondary schools headteachers laying off staff to help cover financial shortfalls, according to a new survey from the Sutton Trust.
The Trust warned cuts had led to "funding issues and financial uncertainty" as they urged ministers to bring forward a proposed spending review to provide "clarity" for schools.
The survey of 1,678 teachers also found 32% of primary heads had decided to reduce teacher numbers, while 72% of them had been forced to cut teaching assistants to stay within budget.
And 41% of both primary and secondary schools reported they had to cut back on trips and outings for pupils, while 55% said they'd had to reduce spending on IT equipment.
The latest analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies found per pupil spending in England had dropped by 8% in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18.
Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said the figures were evidence of the "terrible toll" of Government cuts to schools.
"Teaching assistants often provide dedicated services for the pupils who most need extra support and these figures suggest they have been the first to suffer from the government's cuts," she said.
The figures also show 27% of secondary schools have been forced to use their pupil premium - extra cash received by schools to help lower the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils - to fill gaps in the wider school budget, including using the funds to pay teachers' salaries.
Schools with higher proportions of disadvantaged pupils were also reportedly twice as likely to use the cash to help offset cuts.
Ms Rayner added: “Despite clear backing for the Pupil Premium from teachers, it has been frozen since the Tories took power in 2015, meaning that yet more support for the most disadvantaged has been taken away. Despite the Prime Minister’s promises, austerity clearly isn’t over for our children."
Sir Peter Lampl, founder and executive chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "Our new polling adds to the growing evidence that the squeeze on school budgets is having a detrimental effect.
"Of particular concern is that schools are having to use funding for poorer pupils to plug gaps in their finances.
"Many are having to get rid of teachers to close these funding gaps and endangering efforts to improve opportunities for poorer young people."
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said in response to the report: “There is more money going into our schools than ever before, and since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every 5 to 16 year old in every school and made funding fairer across the country.
"There are more teachers in our schools than in 2010 and the number of teaching assistants has increased by a fifth between 2011 and 2017.
“We recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and have introduced a wide range of practical support to help schools and head teachers, to help schools make the most of every pound on non-staff costs.
"We have also provided schools with funding for additional pressures – such as an extra £940million to cover increased pension costs for 2019/20 so state-funded schools and colleges can focus their resources on providing the best education."
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe