SCHOOLS in Wiltshire face a 'gloomy prognosis' in education quality and academic progress as they face the biggest squeeze on school budget since the mid-1990s.

Cuts to staff, resources and extra-curricula activities could become a reality under the proposed budgets as well as an assault on 'optional' subjects such as the arts and religious education.

Headteachers in Chippenham and beyond have raised their concerns about the future.

"Every school is concerned about it," said Lisa Percy, headteacher at Hardenhuish School. "We began cost-cutting exercises in 2013/14 because we knew what was coming and that was just looking ahead.

"I don't think it is just down to the funding formula as there has been a much bigger increase in other things like an increase in National Insurance and the cost of staff."

The results of the National Funding Formula Review consultation are expected to be released soon, but many in the education sector remain less than positive about the changes which could be implemented in the near future.

Abbeyfield School headteacher Ian Tucker said: "One problem that we have is, like Malmesbury School, we are a PFI-funded school so we cannot go out into the open market. We will have to look at cutting resources for children and staff. All the enrichment activities we do like trips will become historic.

"I have been the head for 15 or 16 years now and I have never known it to be so consistently gloomy in prognosis. It would be lovely to have a light at the end of the tunnel but I don’t see where it could come from at the moment. The strongest leadership teams will be the ones to prevail."

The government was accused of collective delusion by the Public Account Committee on Tuesday about the scope of further savings and warned that more futures would be at risk if the Department of Education failed to act upon the warnings.

Wiltshire's National Union of Teachers secretary Mike Harrison added: “The Government are breaking their promise to protect school budgets. Parents in Wiltshire should be deeply concerned by these damaging cuts that hit almost every school. The Government must act now to protect schools.”

He added: "I have attended numerous redundancy consultation meetings in Wiltshire schools during the past month. There is clear evidence that teachers and teaching assistants are being made redundant and that class sizes are increasing. This should be a concern for all parents."