Funding crisis will damage education say nine in 10 school and college leaders

20 March 2015

Nearly 90 per cent of school and college leaders say the financial pressures they face over the next 12 months will have a detrimental effect on the education they are able to provide, according to a survey published today (Friday, 20 March).

The survey was conducted by the Association of School and College Leaders in early March and received more than 1,000 responses. It is being published as ASCL stages its two-day annual conference in London.

It reveals that many respondents have already encountered severe financial pressures over the past 12 months. Almost 50 per cent described the situation as “critical” or “very serious”.

More than half have been forced to reduce the number of courses on offer and have had to increase class sizes, while more than a third have been unable to replace teaching staff.

Over the next 12 months, many expect the situation to worsen, with 70 per cent saying it will be “critical” or “very serious”.

About 70 per cent also expect they will have to reduce the number of courses on offer and increase class sizes, while some 40 per cent will not be able to replace teaching staff.

In response to the question: “Will financial pressures have a detrimental effect on the education you are able to provide?” - 88 per cent said “yes.”

Schools face a crisis because the money they receive has not kept pace with inflation over the past five years and many areas of England receive inadequate levels of funding due to an outdated formula of allocations.

Over the next 18 months, their budgets will be stretched further by a rise in costs of about 4.5 per cent because of increases to pension and National Insurance contributions, and pay rises for support staff and teachers.

Malcolm Trobe, Deputy General Secretary of ASCL, said: “This issue is of critical importance for the education of our young people and the incoming Government in May simply must resolve it.”

Editors’ notes:

1. The full results of ASCL’s funding survey in March 2015 are as follows (number of respondents in brackets):

Q1. Over the past 12 months have you received enough funding to meet the essential needs of your school/college in terms of having sufficient resources to deliver high-quality education?

Yes - 23.88%   (245)
No - 76.12%   (781)
Total respondents: 1,026

Q2. Have you had to take any of the following actions in the last 12 months?

Redundancies - 34.83%   (342)
Non-replacement of support staff - 74.44%   (731)
Cutting the number of senior leadership posts - 40.84%   (401)
Cuts in resources, such as IT equipment or books - 60.90%   (598)
Reducing the number of courses on offer - 56.62%   (556)
Increasing class sizes - 55.60%   (546)
Reducing the budget for professional teacher development - 53.26%   (523)
Other budget cuts - 56.62%   (556)
Non-replacement of teaching staff - 37.07%   (364)
Total respondents – 982

Q3. How serious is your financial situation?

Critical – 13.84%   (145)
Very serious – 35.21%   (369)
Serious – 19.37% (203)
Worrying but coping at the moment – 28.44% (298)
Fine – 3.15% (33)
Total respondents – 1,048

Q4. Have financial pressures had a detrimental effect on the education you are able to provide?

Yes – 61.29% (635)
No – 38.71% (401)
Total respondents – 1,036

Q5. Over the next 12 months will you have enough funding to meet the essential needs of your school/ college in terms of having sufficient resources to deliver high-quality education?

Yes – 18.96% (197)
No – 81.04% (842)
Total respondents – 1,039

Q6. Do you expect you will have to take any of the following actions?

Redundancies – 53.09% (533)
Non-replacement of support staff - 78.19% (785)
Cutting the number of senior leadership posts – 39.14% (393)
Cuts in resources, such as IT equipment or books – 67.43% (677)
Reducing the number of courses on offer – 66.83% (671)
Increasing class sizes – 71.02% (713)
Reducing the budget for professional teacher development – 61.65% (619)
Other budget cuts – 67.03% (673)
Non-replacement of teaching staff – 40.24% (404)
Total respondents 1,004

Q7. How serious do you think the situation will be over the next 12 months?

Critical – 30.82% (323)
Very serious – 38.65% (405)
Serious – 17.27% (181)
Worrying but will cope – 12.21% (128)
Fine – 1.05% (11)
Total respondents: 1,048

Q8. Will financial pressures have a detrimental effect on the education you are able to provide?

Yes - 88.22% (921)
No - 11.78% (123)
Total respondents: 1,044

Q9. Are you from a school or college?

School – 97.88% (1,014)
College – 2.12% (22)

Q10. What is your job title?

Head or principal - 50.05% (518)
Vice or deputy head/ principal - 11.98% (124)
Assistant head/ principal - 8.41% (87)
Bursar or business leader/ manager – 27.54% (285)
Other – 2.03% (21)

2. The Association of School and College Leaders is the professional association for secondary school and college leaders and leaders in multi-academy trusts and academy chains. ASCL represents 80 per cent of secondary heads and has members in more than 90 per cent of secondary schools, responsible for the education of more than four million young people across the UK.

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