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‘More than half’ of England’s schools planning ‘catastrophic’ staff redundancies

The largest ever survey of school leaders has found that more than half of schools in England are looking at staff redundancies due to Government underfunding and rising costs, the headteachers’ union has warned (Alamy/PA)
The largest ever survey of school leaders has found that more than half of schools in England are looking at staff redundancies due to Government underfunding and rising costs, the headteachers’ union has warned (Alamy/PA)

The largest ever survey of school leaders has found that more than half of schools in England are looking at staff redundancies due to Government underfunding and rising costs, the headteachers’ union has warned.

In a snapshot of the survey which received responses from more than 11,000 school leaders in England, two thirds (66%) of headteachers said they will have to make teaching assistants redundant or reduce their hours.

Half (50%) of respondents said they are looking at reducing the number of teachers or teaching hours.

National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) general secretary Paul Whiteman said educators were being hit by a “perfect storm of costs” as school leaders battled to balance budgets amid “eye-watering energy bills”, spiralling costs and underfunding.

Students Listening To Male Teacher In Classroom
Educators are facing a ‘perfect storm of costs’ as they try to balance budgets amid soaring energy bills and underfunding, the survey found (Alamy/PA)

“With no fat left to cut following a decade of austerity, many thousands of schools are now looking at falling into deficit unless they make swingeing cuts. Education is truly in a perilous state,” Mr Whiteman said.

“The only things left to cut are things that will have a real immediate impact on children – and especially those who are already the most disadvantaged and vulnerable. This goes against everything school leaders strive for, and the anger and desperation I am hearing from my members is unprecedented.

“Schools are finding that they have no option but to make redundancies. A reduction in teaching assistants and teachers will be catastrophic, leading to larger class sizes and less support for children with the greatest needs. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

The survey’s findings which were released on Tuesday, also had 54% of school leaders say they will go into deficit this year if they did not make further cuts.

School children during a Year 5 class at a primary school in Yorkshire
‘A reduction in teaching assistants and teachers will be catastrophic,’ NAHT warned (Danny Lawson/PA)

Just 5% respondents said they will be able to pay their costs next academic year (23-24) without going into deficit – meaning more than nine in 10 schools won’t be able to balance their budgets without drastic action.

Close to half (47%) of schools said they would be forced to reduce non-educational support and services for children next year, while
over four in ten (44%) said they would have to reduce spending on additional targeted interventions for pupils requiring additional support.

A third (31%) said they will have to reduce the number of children receiving tutoring support through the National Tutoring Programme (NTP).

Primary school pupil's at work in classroom, London, UK
Just 5% respondents said they will be able to pay their costs next academic year (23-24) without going into deficit (Alamy/PA)

“Schools will no longer be able to afford those crucial services that are there to support pupils – things that children rely on not just for education but for their health and wellbeing. Things like in-school mental health services, counselling, and speech and language therapy,” Mr Whiteman said.

“Having refused to fund the proposed post-Covid recovery plan last year, this Government is effectively abandoning the most vulnerable children in society a second time by decimating the support schools can offer during a renewed time of crisis.”

NAHT’s survey was taken between September 21 and 14 October 14, receiving more than 11,000 responses from mostly primary school leaders in England.