The soaring cost-of-living and energy prices are battering school budgets (Picture: Shutterstock/PA)
The cost-of-living crisis will lead 90% of schools to run out of money by the next academic year, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has dramatically warned.
The damning claim comes as part of a desperate bid to force the next Conservative leader and prime minister to tackle the education funding crisis – which could result in more damaging strikes.
In an open letter to Tory MPs, 13 national education associations pleaded for them to demand assurances from leadership candidates that they would deliver on the party’s 2019 pledge to restore funding to 2010 levels.
Schools have been hit by the soaring cost of energy, inflation and the rise in staff wages to keep up with the cost of living.
Now there are fears that teaching hours could be cut, along with staff.
The organisations branded the situation ‘desperate’ and highlighted predictions of a £2bn shortfall by 2024, according to the BBC.
It came as early data from NAHT’s survey, supplied to the Observer, suggested 50% of school leaders think their school will be in deficit this year.
Headteachers may go on strike over the issues (Picture: Shutterstock)
NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman told the paper: ‘There are no easy fixes left. Schools are cut to the bone.
‘This will mean cutting teaching hours, teaching assistants and teachers.’
Earlier this week Mr Whiteman told the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference that he has ‘never heard more anger and despair’ from school leaders as NAHT held a national ballot for industrial action over pay for the first time, after only previously holding regional votes on the issue.
Mr Whiteman said headteachers have lost around 24% on the value of their salary since 2010, with education funding set to be 3% less in real terms in 2024/2025 than it was in 2010, when the Tories came to power.
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He added that insufficient pay has sent schools into ‘a vicious spiral’ of staff resignations, and warned that ‘heartbreaking cuts to services’ will have to be made.
Citing ‘spiralling energy bills’, inflation and lack of funding for teachers’ pay Mr Whiteman continued: ‘Consequently, school leaders are being forced to make cuts that ultimately cannot help but negatively impact on the education and wellbeing of children.’
He concluded that the ‘relentlessly reasonable professionals’ he represents feel they have ‘no choice’ but to move to a formal ballot.
‘It is no exaggeration to say that the future of education is on the line.’
The would-be strike comes amid scores of other across various industries around the UK.
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Headteachers are pleading with the candidates to be PM to live up to their promises on education funding.