Real-term budget cuts could mean redundancies

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Funding experts predict that 75% of schools will see real-terms budget cuts next year, and could be forced to make teaching redundancies.

Ministers have admitted that the Comprehensive Spending Review will actually turn out to be a cut in the education budget, despite assurances in October that there would be a small increase in classroom funding.

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Russell Hobby said the majority of schools would have less money and would also have to pay for services being cut by local authorities.

“I think redundancies from schools will have to follow,” he said.

An analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that around 4 per cent of schools with high proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals will see real budget increases of 2 per cent or more. But it also states that up to a fifth of all schools will see real-terms decreases of 2 per cent or more.

Any real-terms funding increases next year will be due to the pupil premium. The pupil premium will amount to £430 a pupil eligible for free school meals no matter which local authority children live in.

The pupil premium is lower than expected by many experts. The main reason given is that the Department for Education is that it now expects a large increase in the number of children registered for free school meals, from 17.4% of pupils in January 2010 to around 20% in January 2011.

This increase in children registered for free school meals is significantly larger than has taken place in recent years, and is expected to arise through the stronger financial incentive generated by the pupil premium for schools to ensure all pupils entitled to free school meals are registered as such with the school.

ASCL policy director, Malcolm Trobe, said that once all the factors were included, some schools will be facing real cuts of 3 per cent or more. In an average secondary that could mean the loss of £150,000.

He said: “Heads will be looking at how many staff they can justify."

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