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School leaders survey 2014

25 November 2014

Whilst the pace of new reforms may have slowed over the last year the landscape for our schools is fast evolving. The economic climate combined with current education policy means our school leaders certainly have lots to contend with.

Whether it is concern around the impact of the new SEN framework on schools’ budgets or dissatisfaction with the government’s funding policy in general, schools are clearly concerned about their finances. What is perhaps striking is the response by schools to these challenges with 71% of secondary school leaders compared to 36% of primary school leaders identifying cutting costs as a major priority. 

It was also interesting to see fundraising identified as a major priority by 10% more school leaders than income generation through trading. Whilst there is interest in trading it is clear many still feel inhibited by the obstacles. It will be interesting to see how schools resource their approach to raising funds through fundraising. Will they rely on existing staff or bring in expert support from outside to improve their chances of success? 

There are some interesting findings on the impact of the introduction of performance related pay in September 2013. Few school leaders reported a positive impact on staff morale, student outcomes or recruitment and retention of staff. It may be worth reflecting on whether this is because the policy is unlikely to achieve these intended outcomes or perhaps whether it is more to do with the way it has being implemented by schools to date?

Key findings

  • Three quarters of school leaders (75%) are unhappy with the government’s funding policy for education 
  • Half (55%) of all school leaders have earmarked reducing costs as a major priority over the coming academic year, rising to 71% amongst secondary school leaders
  • One in four school leaders (27%) would like the option to borrow funds from the private sector  
  • Twice as many school leaders (21%) are optimistic about the educational prospects for their pupils compared to 12 months ago
  • The vast majority of school leaders (82%) are planning to divert funds from their overall budgets to top up their notional SEN budgets 
  • The government’s aim to reduce the number of children taking term time holidays appears to be working with 42% of school leaders reporting a fall in the number of applications being made by parents
  • More than one-third (38%) have increased the number of fines they have issued to parents for taking their children on unauthorised leave
  • Two-thirds (64%) of school leaders report that staff morale has remained broadly the same or has improved over the last twelve months
Click here to read the full report online 
Click here to download a copy of the report 


About the research 

Research for the School Leaders Survey 2014 was carried out between 8 September and 26 September 2014. 467 school leaders took part in the survey, of which 47% were headteachers. The remainder included Chief Executive Officers, Managing Directors, Executive Principals, Principals, Executive Headteachers, Deputy CEOs, Deputy MDs and Principals, Assistant Principals, Finance Directors and Business Managers. 49% of schools that took part were maintained and 51% academies and of the total 45% were primary with 53% secondary. All percentages quoted in this report have been rounded to whole numbers. Where the results do not add up to 100%, this may be due to rounding. Browne Jacobson is grateful to all the school leaders who have generously participated in this study.

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