SCHOOLS colleges are being forced to cut courses, increase class sizes and make people redundant as a result of a growing funding “crisis”, head teachers have warned.
Almost nine in ten heads and principals (88 per cent) believe that financial pressures will have a detrimental impact on the education they offer pupils over the next year, according to a survey by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).
ASCL said schools are facing a crisis as the public funding they receive has not kept pace with inflation over the last five years. Over the next 18 months, budgets will be further stretched by around a four to five per cent in costs due to increases in pension and national insurance contributions as well as pay rises for staff.
The findings, published as the union met for its annual conference in London, show 81 per cent of those polled said they do not think they will have enough money over the next 12 months to meet the essential education needs of their school or college. General secretary Brian Lightman said : “This is not just a tight budget, we’ve had tight budgets for five years, this is a crisis.”
In total, three quarters of the 1,000 school and college leaders surveyed said they have not had enough funding over the last year. Over half said they have had to cut the number of courses on offer, while a similar proportion had to increase class sizes and around six in 10 have made cuts to resources such as IT equipment and books. Just over a third said they have had to make redundancies.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “As part of our plan for education, we have protected the schools budget and committed to introducing a national funding formula.
“We have also announced an extra £390 million for schools - the biggest step toward fairer schools funding in a decade.
Last month the Leeds Schools Forum said the estimated extra costs of pension and staff pay across schools in the city in 2015/16 will be £5.3m and by 2016/17 with increased NI contributions also coming into effect the extra costs will be £15.5m.
It warned that this could result in up to 380 teaching jobs being axed in Leeds alone.