Funding cuts forcing schools to narrow curriculum, Ofsted

Schools are “responding to funding pressure by reducing curriculum breadth”, the chief inspector of Ofsted has warned.

In a blog post published last week, Amanda Spielman said it was “particularly concerning” to see schools reducing access to subjects such as languages, computing, design and technology and music.

However, she did acknowledge that financial pressures, resulting from a mixture of cuts, rising costs and “instability and uncertainty” around both expenditure and income, mean schools are having “to make tough decisions and difficult choices”.

“Schools were responding to these pressures by reducing staffing, cutting back on non-essential building maintenance, and limiting additional provision for pupils, not least those with special educational needs and disability,” she wrote.

“In many cases, we found that schools were making these decisions in an informed way, using benchmarking and other evidence. However, too often we found that decision-makers were not sufficiently monitoring the impact of their decisions on the quality of education and on their most vulnerable pupils.”

She added: “Poor decision-making in response to financial pressure is potentially harmful to quality of education. But this could be as big an issue when funding is increased. Funding can still be squandered when it is plentiful, meaning taxpayers’ money could be wasted for little benefit.”

The blog post has now been removed from Ofsted’s website because it was published “erroneously”. It will be published again in the coming weeks, along with a more detailed study on school funding.