Suffolk: Schools will have to cut jobs to pay energy bills

A Suffolk headteacher has warned education standards will plummet as staff are made redundant due to government underfunding and rising costs.

Geoff Barton, who was previously headmaster of King Edward VI Higher School in Bury St Edmunds and is now general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Following rising costs and years of under- funding, schools in Suffolk and across the country have been left in dire straits.

“These results are consistent with the findings of our funding survey that a majority of school and college leaders plan to cut teachers and teaching assistants in the absence of additional funding.

“Staffing is by far the biggest cost facing schools, so it’s the sad reality that layoffs are going to happen. Fewer teachers means fewer curriculum options and larger class sizes.

“A reduction in teaching assistants will have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable pupils and will put increased pressure on the staff who remain.

“All of this will serve to reduce the quality of education that schools are able to provide. The only way to avoid this is for the government to urgently improve the level of funding for education.

It comes as the largest-ever survey of headteachers found that more than half of schools in England are considering staff redundancies.

In an overview of the survey which received responses from more than 11,000 headteachers in England, two-thirds (66%) of headteachers said they will have to make teaching assistants redundant or reduce their hours.

Half (50%) of respondents said they were considering reducing the number of teachers or teaching hours.

National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) general secretary Paul Whiteman says educators are being hit by a “perfect cost storm” as headteachers battle to balance budgets amid of “exorbitant energy bills”, skyrocketing costs and underfunding.

“With no fat left to cut after a decade of austerity, many thousands of schools are now looking to fall into deficit unless they make drastic cuts. Education is truly in a perilous state,” Mr. Whiteman said.

“The only things left to cut are those that will have a real immediate impact on children – and especially those who are already the most disadvantaged and vulnerable. This goes against everything school leaders seek, and the anger and desperation I hear from my members is unprecedented.

“Schools are finding they have no choice but to lay off workers. A reduction in the number of teaching assistants and teachers will be catastrophic, resulting in larger classes and less support for children with the greatest needs. This cannot happen.

NAHT’s survey was carried out between 21 September and 14 October 14, receiving over 11,000 responses from most primary school heads in England.

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