Schools feeling effect of credit crunch

Some schools are already showing the effects of the current financial downturn, a new survey claims.

The report published by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) today looked at over 2,000 staff working in independent schools around the UK and found that a fifth reported fewer pupils than last year.

Fifty-four per cent of the teachers surveyed said they feared there may be cuts in their school’s spending this year, though 27 per cent said they were not expecting any cuts.

Fourteen per cent said their school had fewer teachers this September than in 2007, and 16 per cent think there may be redundancies in their school during this academic year.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL said that the survey backed up previous theories that some smaller private schools are “feeling the pinch” and have started to experience difficulties in the current economic climate.

“From experience we know there tends to be a lag between parents suffering a fall in income, while they try to re-juggle their finances or find another job, and taking their children out of private education,” she said.

“If the recession continues for long we fear more independent schools will begin to struggle and there will be further redundancies. But it would be wrong for schools to use the economic climate as an excuse to mistreat staff.

“We urge schools to act responsibly as good employers and ensure staff do not suffer unnecessarily, that salary cuts and redundancies are a last resort and are handled with care.”

The ATL claims that when the average full-time basic teaching salary is divided by the average number of hours worked a week during term time independent teachers are being paid on average £15.50 an hour for each hour they work.