SCHOOLS are facing a growing financial crisis as government figures revealed yesterday that academies overspent by £280 million last year.
Teachers have warned that with cuts to education funding, less money is available for teachers and pupils — spending on teaching staff has fallen by 3.2 per cent since 2011-12 while it had risen for admin roles and supply teachers in the same period.
NUT spokeswoman Rosamund McNeil warned that the Department for Education (DfE) figures showed that academy status does not protect schools from “financial austerity.”
Academy schools are being forced to dip into their reserve funds to plug spending gaps which are widening, representing 1.5 per cent of income compared with 1 per cent the previous year.
Multi-academy trusts are the most affected. Over 60 per cent of them overspent last year while just under half of single academy trusts overspent in the same period.
Ms McNeil said the recently announced £1.3 billion cash boost for schools was a step in the right direction, however, she warned it “is certainly not enough to stave off the savage cuts to teaching and teacher assistant posts, the rising class sizes or the cuts to courses and resources for students.
“Academy status is no security against financial austerity for schools,” she said.
Ms McNeil voiced her concerns over a fall in academies’ spending on teaching staff and said the NUT believes that local authorities are best placed to achieve value for money and economies of scale.
“The academy system is enabling the private sector to profit at taxpayers’ expense,” she said.
She accused the private sector of exploiting the recruitment crisis and underpaying supply teachers.
“This has got to end with a properly funded and locally managed supply pool ensuring high-quality, properly paid supply staff to cover short-term vacancies.”
The DfE said: “This does not mean that academies are in debt, as they may have had reserve funds from which these costs were able to be met.”