‘More than half’ of English schools are planning ‘catastrophic’ staff layoffs

The biggest-ever survey of school leaders has found more than half of schools in England are considering staff redundancies due to government underfunding and rising costs, the head teachers’ union has warned. ‘establishment.

In an overview of the survey which received responses from more than 11,000 headteachers 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 were considering reducing the number of teachers or teaching hours.

National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) general secretary Paul Whiteman says educators are being hit by a “perfect cost storm” as headteachers battle to balance budgets amid of “exorbitant energy bills”, skyrocketing costs and underfunding.

Students listening to male teacher in class

Educators face a ‘perfect cost storm’ as they try to balance budgets amid rising energy bills and underfunding, the survey finds (Alamy/PA)

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

“The only things left to cut are those 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 seek, and the anger and desperation I hear from my members is unprecedented.

“Schools are finding they have no choice but to lay off workers. A reduction in the number of teaching assistants and teachers will be catastrophic, resulting in larger classes and less support for children with the greatest needs. This cannot happen.

The survey results, released on Tuesday, also indicate that 54% of school leaders said they would face a deficit this year if they did not make further cuts.

Schoolchildren 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)

Only 5% of respondents said they would be able to pay their fees next school year (23-24) without going into deficit – meaning more than nine out of 10 schools will not be able to balance their budgets without drastic action.

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

A third (31%) said they will need to reduce the number of children receiving tutoring through the National Tutoring Program (PNT).

Primary school pupil at work in class, London, UK

Only 5% of respondents said they would be able to pay their fees next school year (23-24) without going into deficit (Alamy/PA)

“Schools will no longer be able to pay for these crucial services that are there to support students – things that children rely on not only for education but also for their health and well-being. Things like school mental health services, counseling and speech therapy,” Mr Whiteman said.

“Having refused to fund the post-Covid recovery plan project last year, this government is failing society’s most vulnerable children a second time by decimating the support schools can offer in this time of renewed crisis.”

NAHT’s survey was carried out between 21 September and 14 October 14, receiving over 11,000 responses from most primary school heads in England.

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