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Education Number of penniless secondaries has trebled, new research finds

THE number of secondary schools running at a loss has nearly trebled in four years, according to new research published today.

Between 2013-14 and 2016-17, the number of council-run secondary schools in deficit nearly trebled from 8.8 per cent to 26.1 per cent, according to the Education Policy Institute.

The region with the most secondary schools in deficit was south-west England at 34.9 per cent in 2016-17.

The lowest was the east of England at 17.5 per cent.

The figures only cover local authority schools and not others such as semi-privatised academies.

Researchers had analysed the balance sheets and budgets of 1,136 secondary and 13,404 primary schools in England over seven years.

At primary school level, the proportion in deficit rose from 4.4 per cent to 7.1 per cent.

National Education Union joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said that the report confirms what unions have been saying about the impact of real-terms cuts to school funding.

“As recent research by the School Cuts coalition of unions has shown, class sizes have been increasing as a result of government underfunding,” she said.

“Increases in class size mean less individual attention for children, but they also increase workload for teachers and support staff — driving more people away from teaching and intensifying the recruitment and retention crisis that has developed. ”

She warned that “a high-quality education service cannot be delivered without investing in teachers and support staff.

“Instead of ignoring the evidence, the government must respond to the concerns of parents and those working to deliver the high-quality education service we need.”

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton claimed that many schools were so skint that they cannot even afford the 1 per cent pay rise for their staff next year without having to make more cuts.

Government officials shrugged and claimed the Department for Education “doesn’t recognise [the report’s] findings.”

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