Schools are in crisis. This is not an exaggeration. This is the testimony of teachers and pupils across the country. Now, a school in Bristol has become the latest to send begging letters to parents asking for money. But this is at an academy rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. It is one of the most popular and oversubscribed schools in the area. Not only does it make a mockery of the government’s education policies, it shows the huge and damaging impact it is having on our children.
Cuts, cuts and more cuts
Redland Green School has written to parents asking for voluntary donations. The school has seen funding cut from £7.775m in 2014/15 to £6.943m in 2017/18. This equates to £432 per pupil. Headteacher Sarah Baker wrote in the letter that “hard decisions” will have to be made. And she said that cuts to teaching jobs were being considered.
Baker is also clear about the reasons for these cuts:
We have had to make cuts year on year for several years now because of the Government’s austerity policy, which has meant flat budgets for education.
She continued by demolishing the Conservatives’ argument that funding for schools is at its highest level:
In reality this has meant reduced funding each year because we have to pay for increased employer pensions, national insurance contributions, unfunded pay awards and inflationary costs for goods, service and maintenance contracts.
And the impact on children could be massive:
We are still expected to fund what we consider to be essential items, such as careers advice, behaviour and mental health support for students.
It’s not just one school
As The Canary previously reported, these are not one-off cases. Hundreds of schools are writing to parents about the impact of cuts to their budgets. Schools where mental health services are being cut; where children are being taught in leaky classrooms; and schools where children are suffering due to increased class sizes.
Another headteacher, Oliver Joseph, wrote about the consequences at his school:
Just to come in on budget this year, I’ve laid off or not replaced: my librarian, a receptionist, my counsellor, a premises manager, an attendance officer, a head of year and three teachers.
I’ve halved the department budgets, stopped subsidising school trips, reduced CPD to virtually nothing and stopped the school paying into my pension (I’ll be dead by 50 at this rate, anyway).
Who do you want to believe?
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been relentless in questioning Theresa May over education. And every time, she responds with platitudes such as:
We have protected the schools budget. We now see more teachers in our schools. We see more teachers with first class degrees in our schools… We believe in diversity in education and choice for parents.
So do you believe the headteacher at an outstanding academy who says she’s going to have to cut staff, and the headmaster who’s already been forced to cut nine members of staff? Do you believe every single school in Cornwall that wrote to parents saying:
Schools in your constituencies are making far reaching cuts to services that are already stretched to breaking point. These include reducing staffing levels, increasing class sizes and making profound reductions to children’s pastoral and mental health services.
Or do you believe a Prime Minister who is seemingly unable to produce one example of a school thriving under her leadership? A Prime Minister who apparently thinks that shouting “strong and stable leadership” at every opportunity is enough? And a Prime Minister who is so embarrassed by her party’s record that she seems to be in perpetual hiding?
Our children, our friends’ children, and our future children are all relying on us. Our schools are in crisis. Our children cannot vote, but we can. And we have the chance to give them all better opportunities and a better future.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election. If you don’t have a national insurance number, a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500 will get it sent to you in ten days.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
Featued image via Pixabay