Exclusive: Academy chains forced to cut teachers and the curriculum

Scores of academy chains are being forced to take drastic measures to save money as budgets are squeezed, TES research reveals

More than half of the 113 multi-academy trusts (MATs) that responded to Freedom of Information requests by TES said that they were having to cut school staff, to reduce their schools’ curriculum or to make back-office savings as they struggled to make ends meet.

The findings reflect the wider education landscape, where heads are having to make increasingly tough decisions to cope with rising costs and real-terms funding cuts.

Of the 113 academy chains that responded – with responsibility for some 800 schools – 46 said that they would be forced to make cuts to staff and/or the curriculum.

More than a quarter (29) said that they would have to cut teachers, 41 said they would shed support staff and 19 said that they would make cuts to the curriculum.

A senior leader from a prominent academy chain, who asked not to be named, questioned whether central government was facing the same budgetary constraints that it expected schools to deal with.

‘Times are tough’

“There are no two ways about it, times are tough for all of us and we’re having to make adjustments to ride out the storm,” he said. “One has to ask if the Education Funding Agency and the Department for Education are under the same cost pressures.”

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that, faced with such reductions, many academy chains would be forced into making “very difficult decisions” when it came to staffing and curriculum.

“This is the first year when all the big hits come in, impacting school budgets, so they will have to be extremely careful about how they use their resources,” he said.

This is an edited version of an article in the 5 February edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full version of this story here. Read the full coverage in this week’s TES magazine, available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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