“Cash crisis forces secondary schools in England to cut 15,000 staff”

“Secondary schools in England have lost 15,000 teachers and teaching assistants in the last two years, resulting in bigger classes and less individual attention for pupils, according to teachers’ leaders.

Unions say the job cuts are the result of £2.8bn of real-terms funding cuts in schools, where budgets are described as being at “breaking point”. Many schools are facing deficits and more than half of the biggest multi-academy chains have issued warnings about funding.

Based on analysis of government figures, the unions say the 15,000 job losses equate to an average reduction of 5.5 members of teaching and support staff in every secondary since 2015.

Almost half of those are classroom teachers, who are being lost at a time when pupil numbers are growing, according to the School Cuts alliance of education unions. It says the situation is likely to deteriorate, estimating that nine in 10 primary and secondary schools (17,942 in total) will be affected by a real-terms cut in funding during 2015-19. …”

[1,160 teachers were lost from the South West]


Privatisation: “Heads want pay code after £500,000 academy boss”

Wonder what chiefs of Accountable/Integrated Care Organisations will get? Half a million is probably chicken feed for them!

“Head teachers say the pay levels of all school staff in England, including academy bosses, should be in a fairer framework to stop “fat cat” pay gaps.
The chief executive of the Harris Federation was revealed last week to have become the first in the state sector to earn £500,000.

The National Association of Head Teachers wants more transparency over spending “public money”.

The Department for Education has written to 29 trusts about high pay.
But the academy trusts it has asked to explain their levels of pay, where bosses earn over £150,000, are only small, single-school trusts.
The much bigger multi-academy trusts, including Harris, have so far been exempt from this challenge over how much they pay their bosses and managers.

The most recent figures, from 2015-16, show more than 120 academy trusts paying someone more than £150,000 – the large majority of which will be in multi-academy trusts.

A spokeswoman for the Harris Federation says its chief executive Sir Dan Moynihan’s earnings of up to £500,000 reflected the high performance of the trust. …”


“Dozens of academy schools need bailouts from taxpayers”

“Operators of dozens of academy schools are having to rely on emergency handouts from the taxpayer as a result of mounting deficits that threaten to put some out of business.

In the latest sign of the financial pressures now on the nation’s schools, the auditors of one operator that oversees 21 schools raised concerns over its ability to keep operating after it posted a £2.5m loss last year.

The revelations follow an investigation in last week’s Observer that found that more than half of the biggest multi-academy chains (MATs) had issued warnings about funding, citing pay, staffing levels, building maintenance and mounting deficits. It has now emerged that some smaller trusts have had to ask for cash advances from the state to stay afloat.

The Birmingham-based Academy Transformation Trust (ATT), which received funding from the government of £59m last year and operates 21 schools educating nearly 12,000 pupils, is one of a number of chains that appear to be relying on future government handouts to keep functioning.

In a note on its 2016-17 annual accounts, the ATT trustees admit: “While the trust’s balance sheet remains solvent, the net position of income funds shows the trust to have a deficit of £2.513m. The trust is also forecasting a further reduction in funds in 2017-18.

“The trust has been taking action to address this position and is in advanced discussion with the Education [and] Skills Funding Agency [ESFA] to provide an advance to ensure appropriate cashflow during 2017-18 and beyond.”

An auditor adds: “A material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the trust’s ability to continue as a going concern.” It states that ATT’s financial position had been “worsening throughout the year”, and that its board of trustees had not been sufficiently aware of this because of “failings in the trust’s financial reporting and forecasting procedures”.

The Rodillian Multi Academy Trust, in West Yorkshire, disclosed that it also needs a “cash advance … to be able to operate effectively”. The trust, which operates four schools, reported a deficit of £1.5m last year.

“In common with all state-funded schools the [trust] faces considerable pressures on funding,” its accounts state. “The trust took on two schools that had low pupil numbers, were not financially strong and needed a managed staff reduction to address the inherited over-staffing.

“Managing the cash flow month to month is difficult and … the level of creditors has become uncomfortably high. A business case is being prepared to request a repayable cash advance from the ESFA. The ESFA acknowledge that the trust requires a cash advance to be able to operate effectively.”

Andy Goulty, Rodillian’s chief executive, told the Observer that he had come under pressure to take on new schools and had suffered as a result. “It was missionary work really to go in to a community like my own and turn it round. It has been turned around. However, in hindsight we probably wouldn’t take it on. As things have got tighter over the years, we have not had the resource. The government keeps saying that more money is going into schools. Well, yes, it is, but we are paying out more in pensions, national insurance. What is being spent on the kids is less and less.”

London-based Chapel Street Community Schools Trust, which runs five free schools and two academies, saw it post a deficit of £1.6m and state that it is depending on the government providing cash “beyond the normal funding arrangements”.

Its accounts say: “The trust places considerable reliance on continued government funding. This is likely to remain unchanged in terms of the funding per pupil rate, despite pay, pension and general inflation pressures. This increases the risk of deficits.”

Plymouth CAST is predicting that more than 90% of its schools would be in deficit by next year. Its auditors stated: “A material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the academy trust’s ability to continue as a going concern.” The trust reported a £1.54m deficit for the year. It referred itself to the body that oversees school funding last year.

ATT said that a recovery plan has been developed “which shows the trust returning to in-year surplus in 2018-19 and overall surplus no later than 2021 … The trust [had] over £3m in the bank at 31 August 2017.” Rodillian said it had a plan to deliver a surplus in 2017-18 and a significant surplus in 2018-19.

Chapel Street trust said it had experienced some historical financial difficulties related to setting up new schools, but had good educational outcomes. It said its accounts made clear it was on “a sounder financial footing”.

The Department for Education says that school funding is rising from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn in 2019-20, and that every school will receive an increase in funding through the national funding formula this year.”


Who holds academies (and every other privatised service) to account?

” An Observer piece questions the growth of academy schools, warning that: “There is no evidence that, on average, academy chains do any better at managing schools than the local authorities they replaced. Instead, the reforms have created a structural mess, opening up profound gaps in accountability and governance.” The paper also reports that six out of 10 of the biggest academy trusts have raised “warnings over pressures on pay, staffing levels, building maintenance and mounting deficits”, which “raises the spectre of what would happen if a major academy chain were to go bust”.

The Observer, Page: 46


Academy schools – the next privatisation domino to fall?

More than half of the major operators of the government’s flagship academies programme have sounded the alarm over school funding, heaping further pressure on Theresa May to ease the squeeze on public spending.

An Observer investigation into the Conservatives’ treasured education initiative found that six out of the top 10 academy trusts, which operate hundreds of schools across England, have raised warnings over pressures on pay, staffing levels, building maintenance and mounting deficits.

The revelation will worry Tory MPs, many of whom blame pressures on school budgets for the party’s disastrous election result last year. It comes with the prime minister already under intense pressure over NHS funding and facing internal criticism over a lack of focus on domestic issues.

An analysis of the most recent accounts of leading multi-academy trusts reveals that eight of the top 13 largest groups have issued warnings. One said that funding was failing to keep pace with costs and inflation, creating risks of “unsustainable deficits” and staff cuts. …”