UNISON slates government over school funding shortages

Research reveals that many headteachers in primary and secondary schools in England are having to cut staff, IT equipment, trips and more as the funding crisis bites

busy classroom with children sitting on the floor

UNISON has accused the government of failing to invest in education, as a survey of head teachers in England revealed that many are having to cut back on support staff because of insufficient funding.

The survey by the National Foundation for Educational Research for the Sutton Trust found that 51% of primary heads and 28% of secondary heads said that they had been forced to cut back on teaching assistants, while 35% of primary and 31% of secondary heads reported cutting other support staff.

Other heads reported cutting back on IT equipment, trips, sport and extracurricular activities. One in five heads said they had cut spending on teaching staff, while 33% of school heads reported dipping into the pupil premium fund for poorer students in order to plug gaps in their general budgets.

UNISON national secretary Mike Short said: “The findings of this survey show, once again, that the government is failing to invest in schools, pupils and staff.

“With 68% of primary headteachers reporting insufficient catchup funding after the pandemic, this means our young people are being badly let down.”

And Mr Short continued: “The cuts to support staff are hugely concerning. Support staff play a key role in tackling inequalities, from providing nutritious meals to improving attainment through structured interventions.

“Cuts to these vital school support roles will further undermine catchup and levelling up programmes.

“The roots of this chronic crisis go back more than a decade and the government’s failure to properly fund schools has now been compounded by the pandemic. Huge investment in schools, pupils and staff is desperately needed, as UNISON has been calling for.”

Read the report here