INCREASED pension and staff costs could leave schools having to cut thousands of teachers jobs nationally, according to a forum of head teachers and governors in Yorkshire.
Ray Agar from the Leeds Schools Forum said reforms to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme also mean schools face paying more in National Insurance contributions from April of next year.
Mr Agar who is also a governor at Horsforth Academy said: “At our school alone we are looking at an extra cost of £300,000. These are significant extra costs but there hasn’t been any pressure on the Government yet about this.”
The Leeds City Forum estimate the extra costs of pension and staff pay across Leeds schools 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.
The calculations also include “inflation including the Teachers Pay award.”
Estimates provided to The Yorkshire Post by the Leeds Schools Forum claim that as the city receives around 1.4 per cent of the overall schools budget the scale of savings needed nationally by schools nationally could be equivalent to more than 20,000 teachers’ salaries.
Martin Fleetwood, the chairman of the Leeds Schools Forum and head of Temple Moor High school said: “The Schools Forum has been grateful that up to now the Government has largely protected the schools budget while there have been significant cut backs in other services. We will be writing to the Secretary of State to explain the implications of these additional costs, schools are going to be in significant financial difficulties which is going to mean fewer staff and larger classes.”
Delia Martin and Steve Dixon the co-head teachers at Benton Park in Leeds said that at large high schools like theirs it would result in a loss of more than a quarter of a million pounds.
“This is the equivalent of six teaching posts. If high schools had to lose six teachers this would inevitably mean larger class sizes and a reduction in the subjects which could be offered to students,” they said.
Julie Harkness a primary head representative on the Leeds Schools Forum and head of Bracken Edge Primary School said “Losing over £40,000 a year would have a devastating impact on what primary schools would be able to offer children.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “As with all other public sector employers, schools will have to contribute more towards pensions to ensure the costs can be met in future. We have delayed the increase by five months to September to give schools time to plan how they will meet the additional cost.
“We have protected the schools budget in this Parliament and are providing £390million to the least fairly funded areas in the country.”
The issue of schools funding has dominated recent political speeches by David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
Mr Cameron announced that the schools budget would be ring fenced by a future Conservative Government. However when questioned he confirmed this would “flat cash” and not going up with inflation. Critics have said that in real terms this would be a ten per cent cut in the schools budget.
Labour’s Ed Miliband then said if elected his party would protect school funding in line with inflation. However analysis by Sam Freedman, a former advisor to Michael Gove, said that as Labour were not increasing the funding per pupil this would also be a real terms cut because of the large increase in pupil numbers expected over the course of the next Parliament.