(Or any MP Really)
On school funding…. #weeklyblogchallenge17
There are lots of stories out there already on this subject, and there are lots of agencies that are saying the same things. Something is wrong though because the message is not getting through and these voices are being ignored. Here is mine!
Schools are in the middle of a perfect storm of problems. We’ve discussed assessment, Ofsted, governors, SEND funding and all sorts before. All of this pales into insignificance though if schools are not actually open. Because this is the reality that many schools are facing – local head teacher associations are even talking about going to 4 day weeks because of funding issues. I dread to think what Ofsted would make of that. The BBC is reporting specific issues with Multi Academy Trusts and expenditure whilst in West Sussex governors are talking about withdrawing their labour due to low pupil funding.
Schools are Wonderful
I wanted to draw your attention to the very human problem we have at the centre of our communities. It’s not just about schools. It just so happens that schools are at the centre of this perfect storm of, well, cheapness. Consider a rural area (which is where we are) – library services minimal in outlying towns and villages, pubs (which often doubled as post offices and shops) closing, food prices rising. All of this affects schools. In fact, no longer just rural areas. I have had the pleasure of working both inner city and rural and I know how it can impact all communities. Consider: infant school meals now cost way more money than the government provides for them, this year we have had to apply for grants to cover the cost of new books for our library (yes, not grants for fun and frills, just the basic stuff) and the continued increase in all costs for wages has meant we have to think twice before implementing the extra nursery provision you so desperately want of us. Recently we are being asked to consider how much extra we would pay our local council for school nurses – despite mental health being such a priority that last year all of our staff went on a first aid for mental health course.
Yes, you see, the problem is that schools bend over backwards to be all the things you want us to be. Yes we’ve sourced locally produced meat, ensured our breakfasts are healthy and worked hard to put cooking back into the primary curriculum. We’ve implemented the use of technology cleverly to bring international elements into the classroom, whilst at the same time ensuring British Values are emphasised and that our children know how to stay safe online. We’ve promoted a love of reading, trying hard to make the best of our aging book stock and bought in brand new books and textbooks for a new curriculum. Oh yes, don’t get me started on the cost to schools of the new curriculum, new assessment systems and new testing regimes. All of this, yes, all of those wonderful forward thinking and huge system wide changes we did – and we’ve done very well – with less money. Less money.
The fact is without the PTA much of the curriculum enrichment would disappear – last year our PTA supported the school in delivering first aid training to all pupils as part of a focus on ‘looking after ourselves’, they support extra events at christmas and have also helped purchase books and IT equipment. Multiply this by thousands of schools across the country and you get an idea of the money involved. Now we do full circle back to my first point – it’s not just school funding… how long can parents keep supportng school fundraising when they themselves are facing hardship? How long can community nurses really continue to support the focus on health and well-being when the costs for training, resources and expert help continue to rise? Just how long will the various local companies and charities continue to support schools?
Just Acknowledge Us!
Schools are right in the centre of this perfect storm -and we need some reassurance that this has been recognised. We cannot continue to be the answer to societal problems. The ball, as they say, is in your court!