Leadership: Budget's cuts may first affect senior staff

4th September 2009 at 01:00
Leadership teams likely to be trimmed as schools are forced to make redundancies in the coming years

Original paper headline: Senior staff will be the first to go as cuts take hold, experts warn

Senior teaching staff, such as deputy heads and heads of department, will be the first to be axed once schools are forced to make redundancies in the coming years, according to an education recruitment expert.

Following last April's Budget, schools are likely to be staring at three to four years of spending cuts in real terms after 2011 as overall public spending is squeezed from 1.1 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

School funding is secured for this academic year, but in the years between 2011 and 2014 headteachers and governing bodies will be looking to reduce staffing costs.

Professor John Howson, managing director of recruitment specialist Education Data Surveys (EDS), a sister company of The TES, says schools that have developed large senior teams in recent years will trim those posts first to avoid losing teachers in front of classes.

"Schools will be forced to ask questions such as `Did we set up large senior leadership teams?' and `Can we slim these down? Do we need a deputy head?'" he said.

Professor Howson added that these posts carried larger salaries while being unlikely to affect the contact time between pupil and teacher too greatly.

Alan Smithies, head of Parklands High School in Liverpool, said members of his senior leadership team had moved on over the summer and were not going to be replaced.

"It is an obvious place to look at, so I can understand the reasoning," he said. "As a head, you want to make sure there are people in front of the kids. I can understand that some heads who need to make cuts will be asking similar questions in the not too distant future."

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) agreed that redundancies were a "very likely outcome" in schools, as there was "a limit to where else you can make savings". However, he said it was too difficult to generalise.

"There is only so much you can save from changing your utility bills," said Malcolm Trobe, ASCL policy director. "And those schools that have significant financial commitments, with a heavy management structure, will have to look at those areas very seriously.

"But there is too much variation between schools in terms of their leadership structures to enable someone to generalise and say that certain posts will be more at risk.

"It is a potentially vulnerable position but you can't just remove a leadership post and expect that school to carry on in the same way."

Lib Dems seek budget hints from teachers

The Liberal Democrats are turning to teachers to advise them on how best to cut school budgets in order to save the public purse.

Last week, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg called on all frontline staff working with taxpayers' money to submit ideas on how to cut waste in the public sector.

The new scheme, called Ask The People In The Know, was launched in response to the need to make "serious savings" if the country's public finances are to be brought back under control.

Mr Clegg said: "Hardworking nurses and teachers tell me how frustrated they are by the money that is still wasted on needless paperwork, administration and computer systems that don't work.

"David Cameron and Gordon Brown are having a sterile debate about the size of the total Whitehall budget, but they're asking the wrong question. We need first to find out if money is being spent on the right things."

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