Schools are cutting back on staff, IT, equipment and day trips while funding for the UK’s poorest children is being used to plug budgets, teachers have claimed.
More than a fifth of teachers and school leaders believe pupil premium cash – the money aimed at the most deprived youngsters – is instead being used to make ends meet, a poll by the National Foundation for Educational Research found.
Almost half told the study that academisation – removing schools from local authority control – had a negative impact on the classroom, or no no impact at all.
The findings come amid widespread concerns from teachers, unions and parents about a squeeze on school budgets in England, though ministers have insisted more money is going to schools.
The survey of 1,246 primary and secondary teachers and senior leaders, working in English state schools, found that 22% said money from the pupil premium – extra funding to support the most disadvantaged youngsters – is being used to plug gaps elsewhere in their school’s budget.
Just over a third (36%) said this was not happening and the rest did not know.
Among the senior leaders polled, 34% said pupil premium funding was being used elsewhere, with 57% saying no.
Those surveyed by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) were asked whether their school was cutting back on certain areas for financial reasons.
Some 63% said their school was cutting back on teaching assistants, making it the most popular answer, with 50% saying there had been cuts to support staff, and 39% saying teaching staff.