The cost of living crisis has had a significant impact on prices across the board, including many of the day to day running costs of schools.
Our survey of 1,428 teachers, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) as part of their Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey, takes a closer look at the financial pressures schools are facing this year and how they’re spending their funding during the cost of living crisis.
It reveals a concerning picture for our schools, with essential staff and activities – including teaching assistants, school trips and IT equipment – being cut by school leaders at higher levels seen in our previous polling.
The proportion of senior leaders who report cutting teaching assistants this year.
The proportion of school leaders using the pupil premium to plug gaps in their budget.
The proportion of senior leaders who report difficulties in recruiting teachers this year.
Schools cutting back on items or activities due to financial pressures
- The proportion of senior leaders reporting specific items or activities have been cut in their school for financial reasons has increased since 2022. The largest increase is in those cutting trips and outings, at 50%, compared to 21% last year. Reports of teaching assistants being cut has also seen a large increase, now at 63%, up from 42% last year.
- Senior leaders in schools with the most disadvantaged intakes were the most likely to report having to cut back on trips and outings, at 68% in the fifth of schools with the highest proportion of students eligible for free school meals, compared to 44% in the fifth of schools with the least eligible pupils.
- There has also been an increase in those saying they have had to cut back on IT equipment (42%, up from 27% last year), that sports and other extracurricular activities had been cut (26% compared to 15% in 2022) and those saying support staff were being cut (40% up from 33%).
- Looking only at senior leaders in secondary schools, the proportion reporting subject choice at GCSE and A level have been cut has also increased. At GCSE, 25% reported cuts, compared to 17% last year. Similarly, at A level, 24% reported cuts this year, compared to 16% this year.
- Senior leaders in primaries were more likely to report they had needed to cut teaching assistants (67% vs 40% in secondaries), trips and outings (53% vs 28%), IT equipment (44% vs 29%) and sports and other extra-curricular activities (27% vs 18%). Those in secondaries were slightly more likely to report having to cut support staff (44% vs 39%).
Use of pupil premium to plug funding gaps
- The proportion of senior leaders saying pupil premium is being used to plug gaps elsewhere in their budget has increased to 41%, up from 33% in 2022. This is the highest this figure has been since we first started asking this question in 2017.
- Senior leaders in primaries were more likely to report pupil premium is being used to plug gaps than those in secondaries (42% vs 31%).
Difficulties in teacher recruitment
- 71% of senior leaders said they had difficulties recruiting teachers this year, with 26% saying they had to a great extent. This is similar to the proportion saying they were experiencing difficulties recruiting in 2019, the last time this question was asked, when 70% of senior leaders reported difficulties, showing there have been no real improvements in recruitment issues in that time.