HEADTEACHERS say a lack of funding is forcing schools to make cuts to staff.

A report released by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has revealed that almost a third (32 per cent) of schools in the South East of England have made cuts to balance their budget.

More than a third (37 per cent) predicted they will be forced to make cuts this year.

School leaders identified several factors that were causing pressure on their budgets, including providing support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (Send).

Almost all school leaders (98 per cent) said funding for pupils with Send is insufficient.

Other factors included lost income from renting school facilities due to Covid and unfunded increased employment costs.

Dr Hildi Mitchell, headteacher of Downs Infant School in Brighton, said he has cut “pretty much everything” in order to keep hold of the schools teaching assistants.

“As an infant school we need to prioritise keeping sufficient adults with the children in order to keep them safe,” he said.

“This has meant trying to do CPD [continuing professional development] on the cheap, asking for donations for the library and relying on volunteers.”

Dr Mitchell said the number of staff has been cut to an “absolute minimum”.

“This week we have two governors coming in to help out – we can't afford agency staff,” he said.

“Just this week I have a dozen staff off, and that means senior leadership team (SLT) members covering the office and doing dinner duties.

“This is a hideously expensive way to staff a school, and of course has an impact on the work SLT do driving the school forward.”

NAHT president Tim Bowen the situation regarding school funding is in a “critical situation”.

“Spending per-pupil in real terms is lower now than it was a decade ago and schools are responsible for so much more,” he said. “The system is at breaking point.”

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said the government’s failure to invest in schools in the South East over the past decade is forcing school leaders to cut back on staff, support for pupils and activities.

“It is clear that school budgets in the region remain under enormous pressure,” he said.

He said by 2023 school funding will be lower in real-terms than it was in 2010.

“Given the additional demands on schools, including the challenge of responding to Covid-19, that is not a sustainable position and will lead to further cuts in schools becoming unavoidable,” he added.

“If the government is serious about educational recovery and its suggestion that no child will be left behind, then it needs to provide pupils and schools with the resources they desperately need.”

The report, which had 274 respondents from schools in the South East, stated school leaders reported average additional costs of £24,571 as a direct result of Covid-19.

Schools also reported average lost income of £21,867.