Headteachers in England are forced to choose between feeding hungry pupils and paying staff, as new figures show that 90% of schools will run out of money next year.
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Jonny Uttley, CEO of the Education Alliance academy trust, which runs seven schools in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire, said he was “shouting and swearing at the television news” on Wednesday evening after witnessing the chaotic scenes in the Commons during the vote on fracking.
“The contrast between the Westminster circus and what was happening in our primary and secondary school was stark,” he said.
Uttley’s trust is one of many that have been struggling to cope with funding cuts, which have left schools facing a deficit of £3bn by 2019.
Headteachers have been forced to make difficult decisions recently, including cutting staff and resources and increasing class sizes.
Now, with money running out, they are being faced with an impossible choice: either keep staff and risk going hungry or cut staff and be unable to educate pupils properly.
“It’s a no-win situation,” Uttley said. “Do we keep the lights and the heating on or feed the children?”
He added that the situation was “heartbreaking” and that he had seen headteachers in tears as they tried to make ends meet.
“This is not a sustainable way to run a country,” he said. “Something has to give.”
The Education Alliance is just one of many academy trusts across England struggling to cope with funding cuts. 90% of schools are expected to be in deficit by 2019.
This profoundly impacts the quality of education that pupils receive, as well as the mental health of teachers and staff.
“It’s not just the children who are going hungry,” Uttley said. “Teachers are working all hours to try and keep up with the workload, and many are suffering from anxiety and depression as a result.
“This is not what we signed up for.”
He added that the government needed to urgently address the funding crisis in education or risk ” irreparable damage” to the country’s future.
“This is a national emergency,” he said. “If we don’t act now, our children will pay the price for generations to come.”
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