A survey of 50 of the 72 schools in Brighton & Hove by the Save Our Schools campaign has revealed the damage being done to the education of children by the school funding crisis – and especially to the education of children with additional needs. Eighty five percent of schools in the Save Our Schools survey reported that the funding crisis has reduced the support for all children with more than 90% concerned that the funding crisis is having a negative impact on the well-being and achievement of children. Four in five head teachers are now worried that the funding crisis is so severe it will lead to poorer results for children.
The survey found schools having to make cuts across the board with music, arts, modern foreign languages and sport particularly affected and more than 40 of the 50 schools, in the survey, now asking parents for contributions.
More than two thirds of the schools surveyed have made cuts to IT and curriculum resources and to building work but the biggest cuts have been made to staffing budgets. Nearly 90% of schools have made staff redundant, not renewed staff contracts or cut staff hours with18 schools reporting they are now using unqualified staff to cover for teachers.
Inclusion, Special Needs and Mental Health Support in Crisis
The scale and depth of the cuts that schools in the city are having to make is deeply troubling but the impact on the children with greatest needs is even more disturbing. Two thirds of schools say the funding crisis has forced them to reduce the number of teaching assistants and more than four in ten have had to reduce the number of special needs and inclusion staff they employ. The impact is stark: two thirds of the 50 schools responding report that the funding crisis has reduced the funds they can use to provide for children with speech, sensory and language needs and with autism and nearly half warn that the cuts will reduce the mental health support available to children. Nearly nine in ten schools say the overall impact will be less support for children with additional needs.
Nearly three quarters of schools in the survey expressed fears that the funding crisis will lead to an increase in behaviour issues in schools.
The Worst Is Not Over
The Save Our Schools survey has uncovered a very worrying picture but schools do not believe the worst is over. Unless the government changes its policy and funds schools adequately, head teachers, responding to the survey, said they would need to cut staffing costs even further with yet more redundancies and cuts in the staff available to support children.
One head teacher commented: ‘Unless I make further cuts in the coming school year, we predict, with current information that we will have a 6-figure deficit. I have never had to set a deficit budget in 19 years of being a Head Teacher. I am having to consider options I never thought I’d have to.’
Another wrote: ‘The children deserve so much more but this job is becoming harder and harder. Teaching staff have worked miracles on limited resources for years and years but this is now pitiful…’