The impact government has on schools is constantly under a high level of scrutiny by those inside the profession and those with a vested interest, such as parents. In recent years, commentary has been focused on reforms to the curriculum and the mounting workload of teachers, but schools are now facing an even greater challenge to their finances.
According to the Institute of Financial Studies, schools are facing their first large scale funding cuts since the mid-nineties.
Government spend per pupil is anticipate to drop by 6.5% by 2020, despite protection for education funding over the last two decades. This equates to approximately £339 per primary school student and £477 per secondary, leaving 98% of schools worse off. Schoolcuts.org.uk, a calculator assembled by the teaching unions, has compiled map of the UK’s schools, breaking down the exact impact on as many schools as the data was available for.
The new formula is not equal to all schools, with different areas being hit with varying degrees of severity. Schools in larger cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester are set to lose more money from their budgets than their rural counterparts.
In a letter to the Prime Minister on March 22nd, the general secretaries of unions NAHT, ATL and NUT stated “the true problem is that the government is not investing enough in education in the first place”, concluding that the issue does not lie with the proposed formula.
Speaking about the cuts, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, Russell Hobby, added "We have got to a point where for many schools there are no obvious savings left to be made. The only thing left is to cut staff. The government’s own research shows that the likely funding shortfall in a typical secondary school will be over £400,000 by 2019. That’s the equivalent of 10 teachers.
"This cannot help but have negative consequences, often for the most vulnerable. The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Education must be seen as an investment in this country’s future, and not a burden on the treasury."
However, there are some methods available for schools to lower their cost across the board without resorting to dropping staff, such as cutting on their paper trail or reducing administration time. Software exists with a proven record of cutting spend across the board, saving money in both paper and administrative costs, with other options, such as Groupcall Emerge, giving teachers the capacity to spend more of their time on the tasks that matter to them, ensuring that the money spent is being put to more effective use.
Find out how your school is affected at www.schoolcuts.org.uk.