Education workers questioning finances

  • A new survey has revealed that education sector workers are concerned about the state of their school finances
  • 57% of education sector workers have revealed they don’t believe their school is on a sound financial footing
  • This comes at the same time as schools are faced with range of extra costs

new survey conducted by The Guardian Teacher Network and supported by Zurich Municipal, has revealed that workers in the education sector are concerned about the state of their school finances.

The Teacher Network survey, which was supported by Zurich Municipal and received responses from over 1,000 education workers in England revealed the majority (57%) of education workers do not believe their school is on a sound financial footing.

This comes at the same time as schools are faced with range of extra costs, such as higher national insurance and teachers’ pension contributions, pay rises and per-pupil funding not rising in line with inflation. The increased pace of academisation in recent years has also radically changed governance structures and imposed new responsibilities over budgets on to school management, who may have had no prior experience or expertise in running finances.

Yet many respondents (56%) added that they were not aware of any financial training given to the management teams, which raises further questions about financial governance and overall awareness around school finances.

Despite the financial challenges facing those in the education sector, most respondents (57%), think trustees and governors do a good job in determining budgets and ensuring they are well spent, a positive response amidst fears over spending allocations.

However, despite this, the vast majority (86%) of respondents surveyed think governors and trustees should know more, and properly understand the risks facing their schools in terms of finances, staff pay, class sizes, how the school is perceived in the community, school places and teacher shortages.

These survey results come at a challenging time for the education sector, following years of budget cuts and spending restrictions that have affected everything from extracurricular activities to academic provisions and wider school budgets.

Despite these cuts, the Government claims that spending on education is at record levels, many in the sector, such as the National Union of Teachers, have suggested that some schools are struggling to cope, and have expressed concern about the impact that the planned national funding formula could have on the sector.

Commenting on report Tilden Watson, Head of Education at Zurich Municipal, said:

 “The education sector has performed well despite the funding challenges it has faced in recent years. However, such challenges are showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon, and it’s therefore vital that schools continue to find ways to not only sustain themselves in this environment, but thrive.

“This survey suggests that much more could be done to improve financial management skills among governors, trustees and management teams. It’s also crucial that management understand the full range of risks facing their school. No school is the same, and institutions should work with their partners to identify risks and put in place mechanisms to mitigate them effectively.”