State of Education survey report 2016 - Page 12

What are the main obstacles to meeting the demand? Of those schools that reported facing extra demand for places, nearly nine in 10 (86%) would find the demand difficult to fully meet with their current budget, buildings and facilities; for almost six in 10 (58%) it would be ‘very difficult’. Only 14% of school leaders in oversubscribed schools say they would be able to meet the additional demand with current resources. Those in the south west are the most confident, with 15% of leaders in oversubscribed schools saying that accommodating the additional applicants would be ‘fairly easy’ and five per cent saying it would be ‘very easy’. In schools that would find it difficult to meet the demand, lack of space for additional buildings (25%), insufficient school budgets (22%) and school buildings not being fit for purpose (19%) are considered to be the main obstacles – ahead of staffing-related issues. The results show slightly different pictures in primary and secondary settings though: while over a fifth (22%) of secondary school leaders say that recruiting more staff to meet pupils’ needs would be their biggest challenge, this is true for only one in 10 (13%) of their primary counterparts. School leaders across both phases appear confident in the quality of education currently provided for their existing pupils, with very few (three per cent) of those whose schools couldn’t meet the additional demand for places indicating this is due to the quality of provision. Bethany Walton, researcher at The Key, explains: "We see concerns about sufficient school places reflected in the questions we receive from school leaders. They’ve been asking if and when their school must accept certain pupils, and when a local authority’s direction to accept extra pupils can be challenged. We also know that schools are increasingly having to do more with less money, and it is therefore not surprising to see ‘insufficient budgets’ identified as one of the main obstacles preventing schools from providing for more pupils to fully meet current demand. However, school leaders are seeking ways of being more resourceful with their budgets – our articles on generating additional income, achieving good value for money and benchmarking spending have proven popular in the last 12 months. Rather than shrinking from the problem, school leaders are actively seeking ways to make their money go further and cope with challenging circumstances like probable increases in cohorts.” 12 State of Education Survey 2016 | www.thekeysupport.com Find further comment at www.thekeysupport.com/blog