Unions warn of fall in number of teachers at secondary schools
Cuts to school funding have led to a fall of 15,000 secondary school staff in England at a time of rising pupil numbers, unions have warned.
Official Government figures compiled by the School Cuts alliance of education unions show that 68% of secondaries experienced a cut in staff numbers between 2014/15 and 2016/17.
Numbers of classroom teachers fell by 6,463, teaching assistants by 4,455, support staff by 2,454, auxiliaries by 1,453 and people in leadership positions such as heads by 238, the figures suggest.
This equates to an average loss of 5.5 staff members in each school since 2015 - 2.4 fewer classroom teachers, 1.6 fewer teaching assistants and 1.5 fewer support staff.
The School Cuts alliance said the figures proved that reductions of £2.8 billion in school budgets since 2015 were now "undeniably affecting front-line teaching".
And it said some of the largest staffing cuts were in the areas with the lowest average funding per pupil, including Reading, the Isle of Wight, Central Bedfordshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, York, Derby and Milton Keynes.
Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: "Our analysis of the Government's figures now confirms what teachers and head teachers have been saying for the last two years: the cuts to education are damaging for children's education.
"Schools are cutting back on teacher numbers and the pupil-to-teacher ratio is worsening."
The general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, said school budgets were "at breaking point".
"School leaders have made every other possible efficiency and now it is impossible for many schools to avoid making redundancies, to continue to keep class sizes at an acceptable level, and to offer a full and rounded curriculum to all pupils," said Mr Whiteman.
"The school funding crisis is real. Funding increases need to be in real terms, not in cash terms."