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The Funding Crisis in Schools is Reaching Catastrophic Levels

Leicestershire School Heads have opened their books to parents showing them just how much they are struggling

Leicestershire child and teachers from the National Education Union at a rally in Leicester, February 2023. Photo: Darren Staples/Alamy

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The heads of a school in the East Midlands have written to parents to explain they don’t have enough money to give their children the education they expect.

Leicestershire School Heads detailed the challenges 14 years of inadequate Government funding and sustained high inflation on increasing costs was having, telling parents “none of these changes have the interests of our children at the heart of them and all are detrimental to their educational experience”.

“Sadly there is no way our school, like many others, can continue as it is,” the letter continued.

The Heads also voiced their concerns that quality of education will not be maintained in the medium term due to the chronic shortage of qualified teachers. The Head of Brookvale Groby Learning Campus (BGLC) included a second, more detailed, letter detailing the challenges school leaders face. 

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It states that for the first time, BGLC is facing an in-year deficit of nearly £500,000 with the most significant factor being unfunded and partially funded pay rises amounting to almost £400,000. Other issues include inflationary pressures on goods, spiking utility costs with the electricity bill being over £32,000 a month, daily cover rates for supply teachers rising with fewer qualified teachers in the system, and a significant increase in unqualified instructors.

This follows years without any significant additional pupil funding; even Covid pandemic catch up grants have ended.

The Head sets out the very tough decisions he has discussed with other leaders locally and nationally, saying “the outlook is bleak financially for education…the following outcomes are very likely.”

  • Larger class sizes
  • Fewer GCSE / A-Level options
  • Greater teaching from non-specialists
  • Fewer enrichment activities
  • Fewer interventions, in-class support and supervised study
  • Rise in transport costs
  • Rise in food costs
  • Staffing reductions

The letter pleads with parents to raise concerns with local political candidates about the “relentless recruitment and retention crisis for teachers and support staff”, the lack of funding for SEND (special educational needs and disability) and the budget deficits they face as they try to manage students with more complex needs. It also urges them to raise the need to address the reduction and underfunding of external agencies to support the most vulnerable students and the mental health crisis in young people with long waiting lists for help.

“Students only get one chance at education, we owe it to them to make sure that their chance is top of everyone’s agenda,” the letter concludes.

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Robin Bevan, Headteacher of Southend High School for Boys, a grammar school, and former president of the National Education Union (NEU) broke down the financial crises state schools are facing in 2025 to Byline Times, explaining: “You can analyse it in three ways.

“(1) individual school case studies, with examples where to ‘balance the books’ during next year and 25/26, schools will need to make 30+ redundancies (i.e. cease to operate)

(2) looking at funding rates (such as the School Cuts website) which illuminate the 10%+ decline in real terms

(3) examining the rate at which reserves are being ‘burned through’ to support revenue expenditure: which would suggest 1/3 of schools will run out of cash in the next 18 months

He added: “The shortfall on-premises maintenance is shocking too: I now have a backlog of capital repairs in excess of £750k.”

The staffing crisis in education is set to worsen over the next few years with the Department for Education’s 2023 data release showing that 39,930 teachers left teaching for reasons other than retirement in the previous academic year representing 8.8% of the workforce. It was the highest number since records began in 2010.

The latest Initial Teacher Training (ITT) census statistics show the Government has missed its target for secondary teacher recruitment by 50% this year and also missed the primary target by 4%. The secondary school target has been missed in ten out of the last eleven years.

The target for recruitment to teacher training for both primary and secondary was missed by 38%. This continues a sustained downward trend in applications over several years, with 26,955 new entrants to ITT in 2023-24 compared to 40,377 in 2020-21.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL school leaders’ union, has said the “catastrophic shortfall in postgraduate trainee teacher recruitment has plumbed new depths”, and “is simply not sufficient to meet the needs of the education system, and we then lose far too many early in their careers.”

Physics is the worst-affected subject, with just 17% of the target reached this year. In mathematics, 63% of the required teachers were recruited, down from 88% last year, which calls into question the viability of Rishi Sunak‘s proposals to make mathematics compulsory up to the age of 18.

The English target was missed by 74%, and the proportion of the chemistry target met fell from 83% to 65%. Drama dropped from 111% to 79%, art and design halved from 88% to 44%, religious education went from 75% to 44%, and music fell from 62% to 27%.

Only three subjects were recruited above the target number of trainee teachers, classics 196%, PE 181% and history 119%. 

Per-pupil funding is due to rise by 1.9% next year and according to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, the School Teachers Review Body tasked with making pay recommendations has been instructed to consider the “impact of pay rises on schools’ budgets.”

Based on these indicators, the education unions believe the pay award will be between 1% and 2% leading the NEU and NASUWT to begin consulting members for potential industrial action.

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