Layoffs and bankrupt schools: headteachers in England warn of Covid consequences

Layoffs and bankrupt schools: headteachers in England warn of Covid consequences

Covid-19’s legacy on education in England will be thousands of schools going broke, staff laid off and bigger class sizes unless the government steps in to help, say the two headteacher associations, as they count the cost of keeping classrooms safe.

In one small education area alone, Stockport, in north-west England, more than half of schools fear their budgets will be in deficit this year, says the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). Across England, many schools have used up their year’s allowance for cover staff in just half a term because of the number of teachers and classroom assistants having to isolate at home. One secondary school (see profile below) has produced accounts anonymously showing a spend of £339,000 since April 2020 on cover and keeping its premises safe.

It is a desperate situation, because the costs are falling on budgets already stretched to the limit through years of underfunding, says Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL). “Most of a school’s budget is spent on staffing, so the inevitable conclusion of having less money is that they have to cut staffing. This increases class sizes, and reduces the capacity to deliver pastoral care and provide additional classroom support for pupils who benefit from that. Unless the government acts, one of the legacies of Covid will be yet another funding crisis in education,” he says.…

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