Survey reveals impact of cost savings in UK schools

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17th May 2018 13:21 - Central Government

Survey reveals impact of cost savings in UK schools: A recent survey by the Association of School and College Leaders has shed light on the extent of cost savings in UK schools. 
In the poll of 238 school business leaders, almost all questioned (99%) said their school had made cost savings over the last 12 months with 46 per cent saying these were up to £100,000.
Others reported they have had to make larger cost savings, with 22 per cent saying the figure was upward of £150,000 and 9 per cent saying it amounted to more than £300,000. 
The effects of cost savings in UK schools
Cost savings in the last twelve months have had a dramatic impact on school services and staff numbers, according to the survey. The largest area affected being support staff, with 77 per cent of respondents saying their school has had to make cuts. Forty-one per cent said they have also had to cut back on senior-level teaching staff, with 43 per cent believing they will have to do the same next year. 
Last year, 64 per cent of leaders said there was reduced spending on maintenance of the school, while 69 per cent said they had tried to save money by renegotiating service contracts. One in five respondents (20%) also revealed their school has had to turn to parents to ask for contributions for mainstream activities, something that a quarter (24%) are expecting to do in the coming year. 
When asked what impact the cost savings have had on their school over the past 12 months, 59 per cent said it had increased teacher workload, with just slightly less saying it had reduced individual support for children (56%) and reduced curriculum options (51%). 
Over the next twelve months, 58 per cent of leaders expect the teacher workload will again increase because of cost saving, with 65 per cent saying they expect there will be reduced support for pupils - an increase on lasy year. Fifty-four per cent believe there will be reduced curriculum opportunities in the next academic year – which again is up on current  figures. 
Just over half of respondents polled said that over the past 12 months classroom sizes had increased (52%), while 46 per cent said there were fewer enrichment activities available. Counselling and mental health services have also been impacted with 23 per cent saying they have had to make cost savings. These are areas that 31 per cent of leaders believe will face cuts over the next 12 months. 
In-year deficits 
Of all those surveyed, just under half said that their school is running with an in-year deficit on the current financial year (49.58%) with the same number saying they currently have no free reserves. Looking to next year, almost 60% said they believe they will be in deficit. 
Describing the survey findings as “stark”, Geoff Barton, the general secretary of ASCL, said the work of schools will be “increasingly eroded” unless the government takes “urgent action over the school funding crisis”.
“The ability to provide individual support to students – working with often vulnerable young people to overcome barriers to learning – will be further undermined. Hard-won standards are being put at risk by chronic government underinvestment,” he added. 

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