The lack of money in our education system is having a shocking effect on our schools. Anna Golden, headteacher of East Midlands’ All Saints’ CE Primary School Alrewas writes about the budget cuts in practical terms.
The scene is the same throughout the country, with budget cuts affecting every single council and region.
Over the past ten years school budgets have been systematically cut, both in terms of the total budget coming into schools and wider services available to them. The impact of this has shown itself in a number of ways.
There are now much larger classes, with fewer teaching assistants and therefore less focussed attention for individual children. This tends to have a large impact specifically on low ability children and can lead to poor behaviour management with negative consequences.
There are many ways schools are trying to save money, including:
– Teaching in larger classes
– Employing less qualified teachers
– Asking parents to provide basic equipment
The more experienced a teacher is, the more they cost a school. Ideally it is good to have a mix of experienced and less experienced teachers as this brings diversity, new ideas and expertise to draw upon.
Some schools employ Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT’s) and keep them on temporary contracts which are not renewed, then reemploy a new NQT for the next academic year, to save money. Once a teacher is given a permanent contract they tend to progress up the pay scale, so employing NQT’s is a way to avoid escalating costs.
Less money means that schools find it hard to offer retention incentives (ie greater salaries) to keep good staff. The fact that teacher’s pay has been essentially frozen for 10 years (up until a couple of years ago), means that the profession has not attracted and most importantly retained, good quality graduates.
Ideally it is good to have a mix of experienced and less experienced teachers as this brings diversity, new ideas and expertise to draw upon.
Anna Golden, All Saint’s ce primary school alrewas
Many schools (including mine) ask children and parents to provide basic equipment such as pens, pencils, glue sticks etc to save money. This is okay for parents who can afford it.
We ask our Parent Teacher and Friends Association to fund ‘extras’ such as playground equipment, IT resources, trips and visits. Again, we are lucky at my school as it has a very active PTFA and is in a relatively affluent area.
Services such as mental health support, Special Educational needs and Music used to be provided free of charge but have been drastically cut which means that schools have to pay out of their own budgets. This has had a huge impact on the most vulnerable families and children.
Headteachers and school governors have had to become more and more creative with spending. For example, in my school we have initiatives for saving energy with a recent investment in low energy light bulbs and putting a limit on photocopying etc.
Staff are very careful and there is a general culture of ‘there is no money’. We are becoming more analytical about what we spend and the impact of spending money on ‘big ticket’ items. We have also collaborated with local schools to share training and INSET days as another way to cut costs.