Schools are on the “brink of financial collapse”, heads warn

Many schools are on the “brink of financial collapse”, school leaders warned this week, as more evidence of the funding crisis gripping education emerged.

The results of a major survey of secondary headteachers in the East of England, seen by TES, reveals that two-thirds do not have sufficient funds to “deliver high-quality education” over the next year.

The research – which covers secondaries in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire – finds that 69 per cent of schools view their 2015-16 financial situation as “serious” or worse.

Ministers claim to have “protected” school budgets, but that is only in “cash” terms. Rising costs mean schools are being hit by real-terms cuts.

Richard Thomas, the executive director of secondary headteacher associations in Essex and Suffolk, who organised the surveys, said secondaries’ post-16 funding had been slashed by up to a fifth since 2010.

In addition, increases in teacher pay, national insurance and pension contributions meant that, from September, schools would experience the equivalent of a 4.5 per cent drop in funding. “It will drive many secondary schools to the brink of financial collapse,” he said.

Classroom unions now fear the shortfall is so severe that school governors will be forced to use their new freedoms over pay awards to deny teachers the increases approved by the government. The unions are threatening school-by-school industrial action if teachers don’t receive the minimum pay rise.

Read the full article in the 10 July issue of TES. You can read it on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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