Schools ‘at breaking point’ over funding

Survey of primaries in Yorkshire authority finds evidence of reductions in teaching and support posts plus delays to maintenance work

Martin George

The survey of primary schools in Calderdale raised concerns about funding.

Funding campaigners have warned that schools are at breaking point after three in four primaries that took part in a survey in one district said they were worried about balancing their budget.

Calderdale Against School Cuts (CASC) conducted an anonymous survey of 43 primary schools that attended a meeting of the Calderdale Primary Headteachers’ Association.

Survey organisers said the group of schools in the Yorkshire district included a balance of academies and non-academies, and it received 38 responses.

The survey found that:

  • 76 per cent of the schools had concerns regarding balancing their school budget over the next three years.
  • 45 per cent had made or intended to make staff redundant due to budget cuts.
  • 34 per cent of schools had made reductions to teaching staff.
  • 60 per cent had made reductions to support staff.
  • 68 per cent reported delaying or reducing expenditure on maintenance, shelving essential repairs.

Sue McMahon from CASC said: "Whilst the Department for Education and government ministers continue to deny there is a funding crisis, the reality at the chalk face is that schools are at breaking point.

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“This survey is a wake-up call for those that deny we have a funding crisis. What we are seeing here is being replicated throughout the country.

“With pupil numbers rising nationally, less money coming in, but an increase in running costs, schools are being forced to reduce staffing and make cutbacks.

“The lack of government funding is shortchanging a generation of children. It's time to put pupils before politics."

Last year, the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies found that per-pupil funding had been cut by 8 per cent since 2010.

And last month the DfE suggested in evidence to its advisory body on teacher pay that schools could afford a 2 per cent pay rise in 2019-2020 without any additional money.

Headteachers branded the claim as “completely unrealistic”.

The Calderdale survey also found that schools had been forced to reduce expenditure on SEND, support and specialist services, extracurricular activities, school visits and continuing professional development for staff.

The survey comes after education secretary Damian Hinds faced pressure from backbench Conservative MPs over the issue of school funding during the education questions in the Commons.

MPs, including two former cabinet ministers, raised funding issues including those facing rural schools and special educational needs.

The Department for Education spokesperson said: “Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school and made funding fairer across the country.

“While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we do recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more.

"That’s why we have introduced a wide range of practical support to help schools and head teachers, and their local authorities make the most of every pound, ensuring resources are being used in the best possible way to improve outcomes for children.

“In Calderdale, schools will receive an increase of 4.1 per cent per pupil in 2019-20, compared to their 2017-18 baseline. This increase is equivalent to £9.5 million in total, when increasing pupil numbers are also taken into account.”

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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