Economic crisis to hit expenditure of private schools

One in five teachers say their school already has fewer students now than it did last year, while 14% say they have fewer teachers, according to a survey commissioned by the Association of Teacher and Lecturers (ATL). More than half (54%) fear there may be cuts to their school's spending in the coming months, with around 16% saying there could be redundancies this academic year. The survey follows a warning by a leading chartered accountant earlier this week that independent prep schools could face closure or a merger if the current financial crisis continues to worsen. ATL's survey of more than 2,000 staff working in fee-paying schools found that a sizeable proportion of schools are managing to hold their own in the current climate.

Around 45% said their school has more students this year, while a third said they had more teachers. Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said, 'The survey backs up what we are hearing anecdotally – that some smaller private schools are feeling the pinch and already beginning to find the going tough in the current economic climate.' The survey also found that a quarter of those polled (24%) say their pay is lower than in the state sector, while more than half (53%) said it was comparable or better. Three quarters of full time teachers (75%) said they work more than 48 hours a week, while a third work more than five days during term time. Bousted said too many independent schools were expecting staff to work 'excessive hours for mediocre pay.' On Tuesday, Noble Hanlon, a partner at chartered accountants Haysmacintyre told delegates at the annual Wellington-Marlborough Preparatory Heads Conference that there was no reason why prep schools would not be affected by the financial crisis.

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