A survey of headteachers has suggested school budgets are reaching ‘breaking point’.

The survey of 1,102 school leaders revealed the number of schools in deficit has doubled since 2015. Almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents said they were only able to balance their budgets by making cuts or dipping into reserves. 72% said their budgets will be ‘unsustainable’ by 2019, The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said.

The survey revealed 85% of respondents save money by spending less on new equipment.

NAHT General Secretary, Russell Hobby, said: “School budgets are being pushed even closer to breaking point than before.

“Schools are acutely feeling the impact of an estimated £3bn shortfall in the Government’s education budget by 2020 – the first real-terms cuts to education spending since the 1990s.

“The Government must take urgent action and commit to funding schools sufficiently in the next budget. It is time to stop viewing education spending as a cost and to start seeing it as an investment in England’s future, and in our children’s.”

The growing number of children with mental health issues is a big concern, the NAHT have said. Almost 80% of schools are providing support for children with mental health issues from general school budgets.

Bernadette Hunter, Headteacher at William Shrewsbury Primary, said: “The removal of the Educational Services Grant, wage inflation, increases in pension and National Insurance contributions, the apprenticeship levy and cost of living increases, are all leading to a real terms cut for schools.

“Costs are rising at a time of stagnant budgets, and the new funding formula, that we hoped would help, will see our school lose £38,000 – a teacher’s salary.

“This is devastating. The funding formula will fail if there is not enough money put into it and children’s learning will suffer.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have protected the core schools budget in real terms, so that school funding will be over £40 billion in 2016-17 – its highest level on record.

“We are also consulting on plans to end the disparity in the school funding system. These proposals will not only see more than half of England’s schools receive a cash boost in 2018-19, but will also give headteachers certainty over their future budgets, helping them make long-term plans and secure further efficiencies.”

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