Release date: 22/03/2017

The BBC has today published the results of an exclusive survey of more than a thousand NGA members; school governors and trustees in England. The survey looked at the decisions being made by our members to try and manage the unprecedented financial pressure facing schools, and what the consequences of those decisions will be for teachers and pupils.

The survey found that in 2017-18:

  • 39% of respondents expect to cut the number of full-time teachers, rising to 45% in 2018-19
  • 60% of respondents expect to cut teaching assistants and support staff hours
  • 42% of respondents expect to increase class sizes
  • 33% of respondents expect to reduce the number of subjects on offer. 

The survey also found that schools are going to extraordinary lengths to find more money. As well as renting out school facilities to local community groups or businesses for meetings, they are appointing professional fundraisers on commission, asking parents to carry out essential maintenance and seeking sponsorship from businesses. Some schools were asking parents for voluntary financial contributions, whereas a significant number of schools said this was not an option because their school was in an area of deprivation.

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The law on asking parents for money is clear. A school can only ‘invite’ contributions towards the cost of curriculum activities and must emphasise that any contribution is voluntary. No pupil may be left out of a curriculum activity because his or her parents cannot, or will not, make a contribution of any kind. The NGA’s position is that state education should be funded by the public purse.

Today’s news comes on the same day as the Department for Education’s consultation on the ‘national funding formula’ closed. The survey shows that only one fifth of respondents did not support the principle of a new formula to change the way schools are currently funded. Currently, the Department for Education determine how much money each local authority receives for schools and this is then distributed to schools via that authority’s funding formula. Under the proposals, all mainstream state schools in England will be funded according to one national formula (the NFF).

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: “It is important to recognise the support for the national funding formula. We argued for it on behalf of our members and we want it to happen with some adjustments.  The case for changing the way schools are funded should not be confused with the broader argument for more money for schools because, ultimately, it will mean pupils get a fairer share of not enough.     

“It is not unexpected news that cuts are being made to the education system across the country. School governors and trustees have been telling us so for some time, but the findings published today do underline the fact of the school funding crisis and that it is not going to go away without more investment.

“We wrote to the Chancellor before the March Budget to ask him to increase the amount of money for each pupil to deliver the investment that schools desperately need. We need to ensure there is the enough in the basic budget for every pupil in England to secure a good education for all.

“It is particularly galling that when schools are being told there is nothing available to cover rising costs, money can still be found for special projects such as increasing selection, which is not supported by the education sector or indeed by any evidence to show that it will improve outcomes for all children.” 

In 2016 the National Governors’ Association and TES carried out a survey of 5000 school governors and trustees in England. Almost 60% told us they would need to reduce spending on school staff over the next two years. Funding pressure had already also affected the curriculum offer. 29% had reduced the number of subjects on offer. 15% had reduced the number of qualifications on offer. Almost one third had increased class sizes.

NGA would like to thank NGA members who took part in the BBC’s survey, which was open between February and March 2017.

More on this:

Emma Knights explains the situation on the BBC Breakfast show skip to 07.12

Funding the Future: supporting England’s schools

NGA and NAHT urge Chancellor to keep manifesto promise to protect per-pupil funding

‘The choice I have to make is an immoral one’, a guest blog by Claire Carter

NGA response to the Department for Education's consultation, 'Schools that work for everyone'

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