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Cuts see cash-strapped schools covering for police and mental health services

Survey of 2,000 heads also finds seven in 10 saying their schools are close to falling into the red

school funding cuts, mental health, CAMHS, funding cuts,

Survey of 2,000 heads also finds seven in 10 saying their schools are close to falling into the red

Schools are increasingly being expected to do the work of police and health services because of local government cuts, according to new research.

A survey of almost 2,000 headteachers around the country offers a grim snapshot of how schools are struggling to do more with less after years of cuts.

More than seven in 10 of school leaders told the Worth Less? campaign they are coming closer to tipping into deficit this academic year than ever before.

Ninety-four per cent said their schools are now routinely delivering services previously provided by their local authority, such as mental health support.

Almost all, 97 per cent, said their school is now also dealing with low-level criminal behaviour that would previously have been handled by police.

Cash-strapped school leader Cheryl Smart, head of Alfreton Park Community Special School in Derbyshire, says her school is near falling into the red despite cutbacks.

“Ultimately I am concerned that we won’t be able to meet the needs of the children anymore,” she told ITV. “We’re having to pick up the pieces on health and social care.”

Jules White, a headteacher and leader of the Worth Less? school funding campaign, said heads up and down the country were facing the same problems.

“We’re being asked to do more and more of the work of other services,” he said.

“We’re happy to work hard, we’re happy to do the best for the children, but in the end you need the resources to be able to deliver a first-class education…We’re desperate for meaningful government help.”

Government data on maintained schools published last year, and analysed by the Education Policy Institute in a report released today, showed rapidly dwindling bank balances in England's schools.

Nearly a third of secondaries and one in 12 primaries posted deficits in 2017-18, which grew on average more than 10 per cent in size from the previous year.

At the same time schools are finding themselves on the frontline as local governments struggle with cuts to youth services.

Separate research by MPs published today warned pupils are being “failed” by mental health services, with only three in 10 receiving NHS-funded treatment last year.

But the DfE argues schools are receiving a record amount of funding and attainment standards have improved under the Tory government.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said the department is helping schools to make the most of their resources.

“Schools do have to be efficient, taxpayers expect that,” he told ITV.

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