Many schools in England are considering cutting teachers or teaching hours to save money, says the head teachers’ union, NAHT.
Of the 11,000 respondents to NAHT’s snapshot survey, 66% said they will have to make teaching assistants redundant or cut their hours. Half say they could do the same for teachers.
School funding is increasing, but costs such as pay and energy are rising fast.
The government said it had increased school funding by £4bn this year.
Ahead of the government’s Autumn Statement next week, which is expected to bring widespread public funding cuts, the NAHT asked heads and other senior school staff about managing their budgets.
The 11,000 responses give a good overview of the decisions they are making this school year.
More than half of those who replied (54%) said they would not be able to balance their budgets unless they make spending cuts.
Many also warned they would have to reduce support for children, such as counselling for mental health issues, or extra help for individual pupils.
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Claire Evans, head teacher at Eaton Valley Primary in West Bromwich, said her school is having to shoulder “unsustainable” price increases in an attempt to avoid passing these costs on to parents.
Most of a school’s budget goes on pay, so the 5% pay increase that most teachers in England received in September has had a big knock-on impact on finances.
For Eaton Valley, it has added £90,000 to the annual bill for staff costs, which it is expected to find from within its existing budget.
Other costs are spiralling too. A bus for a reception class trip to a farm has jumped from £870 to £1,070, and basic supplies like exercise books have gone up from 54p each to 65p.
The school’s caterers say they will charge £18,000 more for their services from April, as well as putting up costs per meal which takes it from £2.30 to £2.87.
“When you add that to the rise in milk, to the rise in paper, to the rise in costs in school trips, to the pay rise for all teachers and teaching assistants, it becomes unsustainable in the future,” Mrs Evans told the BBC.