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90% of schools will run out of money by the next academic year, headteachers warn

NINE out of 10 schools will run out of money by the next academic year due to the worsening cost-of-living crisis, headteachers warned today.

In an open letter to Tory MPs, 13 national education associations urged them to demand assurances from the next prime minister that Downing Street would deliver on the party’s manifesto pledge to restore funding to 2010 levels.

The call comes as schools look set for a £2 billion shortfall by 2024, due to spiralling inflation and energy bills as well as the government’s unfunded below-inflation pay offer to teachers. 

The latest survey from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) reveals that half of school leaders expect their institution to be in deficit this academic year as costs balloon.

General secretary Paul Whiteman warned that there are “no easy fixes left.

He told the Observer newspaper: “Schools are cut to the bone. This will mean cutting teaching hours, teaching assistants and teachers.”

Mr Whiteman announced the union’s first ever national industrial action ballot at the TUC’s annual Congress last week, telling delegates in Brighton that he has “never heard more anger and despair” from headteachers. 

Heads have lost almost a quarter of the value of their salary since 2010, he said, while education funding is set to be 3 per cent less in real terms by 2024-25 than it was when the Tories came to power.

The general secretary argued that insufficient pay has sent schools into “a vicious spiral of staff resignations” and that “heartbreaking cuts to services” will have to be made.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the future of education is on the line,” he stressed.

National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said today: “Schools are running on empty and will have to cut back on teachers and support staff to try and balance the books.

“This is an already bad situation which threatens to get worse with a new era of austerity expected to be announced by the Chancellor [Jeremy Hunt] in his statement on October 31.

“Whoever becomes the next prime minister needs to change course and prioritise investment in education.

“If we get more of the same, children and young people will end up paying the price.”

The third Tory PM in less than two months is due to be sworn in by Friday at the latest.

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