The UK government’s major spending cuts have forced thousands of schools across the country to lower their standards in order to cope with the consequences of shrinking budgets, a new survey shows.
More than half of the country’s teachers have reported an increase in class sizes in the past year, according to preliminary data from a study by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, The Independent reported Sunday.
More than half of the school leaders told the ATL that class sizes had been one of their main concerns over the past 12 months.
The Independent cited some officials that the cuts had pushed the teacher to pupil ratio to 35 pupils or more at many cases.
The changes had particularly affected secondary education, where there is no limit on school sizes. The average primary school class had 27 pupils in last year, while the figure stood at 20.4 for an average secondary school class.
According to the report, per pupil funding has been on the decline in real terms, requiring mainstream schools in England to make efficiency savings go up from £1.1 billion in 2016-17 to £3 billion by 2019-20 in order to keep functioning within the available funds.
The data fall in line with recent warnings by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee about falling standards and “soaring class sizes” due to the most extreme spending squeeze since the 1990s.
The committee warned that the trend puts the children’s futures “at risk,” criticizing the Education Department for its failure in understanding “the pressures that schools are already under.”
One secondary school teacher said teachers did not like to admit to the real numbers because they were unable to deal with the situation.
“Reduced budgets mean fewer teachers and support staff are available to provide support in these areas, and there is less capacity for counseling and educational psychologists,” the Association of School and College Leaders said in a statement.