Cost-of-living crisis: Impact on schools

Megan Lucas, Rachel Classick, Amy Skipp and Jenna Julius

21 September 2023

 Pupils and Families
 School Provision
 School Staff
 Combined reports: Cost-of-living: Impact on Schools (full report)

The cost-of-living has been rising sharply across England since 2021, including unprecedented increases in energy costs, rapid increases in the costs of food and significant increases in the costs of housing via higher rents/mortgage costs. 

Drawing on online surveys of over 2700 teachers and senior leaders in April and May 2023 in mainstream and special schools, this research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and conducted in collaboration with ASK Research aims to explore how the cost-of-living is affecting schools in a series of three reports which establish:

  • What impact do teachers and senior leaders report cost-of-living pressures are having on pupils and their households?  
  • How has provision in schools been affected by cost-of-living increases?  
  • What impact have cost-of-living increases had on school staff?

Report one: Pupils and their families (published 7 September 2023)

This report is focused on what impact teachers and senior leaders report cost-of-living pressures are having on  pupils and their families.

This report highlights how cost-of-living pressures have increased both the number of pupils requiring  additional support and the level of need among these pupils, including well-being and mental health needs among pupils. Pressures are greatest in special schools and the most disadvantaged (as measured by pupils’ eligibility for free school meals) mainstream schools. The report also finds that schools have expanded  the scale and range of support they have available for pupils over the last year in response to cost-of-living pressures.

Report two: School provision (published 13 September 2023)

This report focuses on how  provision in school has been impacted by cost-of-living increases.

This report highlights how the majority of teachers and senior leaders report that they are  having to make cuts to meet the direct costs of cost-of-living pressures (e.g. energy/food/salary costs). It also details the cost-saving measures schools are taking in response to the increased cost of living and  the direct impact this is having on the teaching and learning environment of pupils.

It also outlines the  areas of spending schools are making cuts to in response to the increased cost-of-living.

Report three: School Staff (published 21 September 2023)

This report focuses on  the impact the cost-of-living increases have had on school staff.

This report reveals that many Teaching assistants (TAs) in England are taking second jobs to supplement their income during the cost-of-living crisis, with others leaving the profession to take-up better paid positions in other sectors. It also finds that less than half of teachers can afford to pay an unexpected expense outright and how cost-of-living pressures have amplified existing recruitment and retention challenges in schools.

Sponsor Details

Nuffield Foundation