Over two-thirds (69%) of secondary school heads have had to cut teaching staff to save money, according to new polling published by the Sutton Trust today.

The survey of 1,678 teachers, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) for the Trust as part of their Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey, highlights how budget cuts are affecting schools across the country.  The key findings of the report include:

  • 69% of secondary senior leaders have reported having to make cuts to teaching staff for financial reasons, along with 70% for teaching assistants and 72% for support staff. 72% of primary school heads also report cutting teacher assistants.
  • One in four (27%) secondary school leaders report that their pupil premium funding is being used to plug gaps elsewhere in their budget. For those who do report it plugging gaps, most indicate it being used on teachers and teaching assistants, or absorbed into the general school funds.
  • Just over half (55%) of school leaders feel that their pupil premium funding is helping to close attainment gaps in their school. Primary leaders (57%) are more likely than secondary (50%) to say so.
  • Of those who disagree that it’s having an impact, teachers offer a variety of reasons including ‘funding is not enough to make an impact’ or point the difficulty in closing gaps due to external factors.  
  • Use of the Sutton Trust/EEF toolkit also continues to rise with 70% of secondary school senior leaders reporting to use it, up from 63% last year.

The full findings of the report are available here.

Commenting on the findings, chief executive Emma Knights said: “The Sutton Trust’s figures confirm what governing boards of schools and trusts across England have been telling the National Governance Association for some years: redundancies of both teaching and support posts are having to be made in order to balance budgets. This consensus has very much emerged from all the evidence. The NGA welcomes the Sutton Trust adding its voice to those of us urging the Government to address the funding issues and financial uncertainty that schools are facing. We agree clarity is needed as soon as possible, as well as continued support for disadvantaged pupils paid through the Pupil Premium.”

School governors and trustees are responsible for the financial oversight of their schools, which includes deciding how the budget is spent - just one in five are confident that they can manage budget constraints without compromising the quality of education, according to NGA’s School Governance in 2018 survey. NGA continues to lobby for an increase in school funding in the next comprehensive spending review as part of our Funding the Future campaign.

Governing boards have a major responsibility in holding school leaders to account for the spending of pupil premium and, in particular, for its impact. All pupil premium spending should be ring-fenced, evidence-based and making a measurable impact. For further information, see the dedicated pupil premium area of the NGA Knowledge Centre

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