Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner says the education system is in “chaos” and “crisis”. And the situation is now so bad that volunteers are having to carry out renovation work on schools. But the government has announced this like it’s a good thing.
When it all falls down
In August, the government agency Highways England organised a “community day” for St Thomas More primary school in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Volunteers from companies that do work on the East Midlands road network renovated school facilities and grounds. This was all paid for by government contractors like Amey and Kier:
— Pompey Music (@andpompey) August 18, 2017
— Pompey Music (@andpompey) August 18, 2017
As the government announced on Tuesday 14 November, the school:
received a much-needed facelift after 80 employees from 12 different organisations provided materials to carry out the work over a two-week period… communal areas were cleaned, walls and woodwork painted and 275 old coat hooks replaced with brightly coloured, matching ones. New plastic sheeting was also installed around busy places near banisters and the canteen, so they can be wiped clean more easily.
Benches were given a new lease of life while planters were built out of fence posts that create a welcoming entrance to the building. The playground has had new long-lasting rubber surface laid to ensure that pupils are able to play in a safe environment.
A sad reality
But the reality of the situation is different. This volunteering merely replaces work that the government should be paying for itself. And as The Canary previously reported, government cuts to education budgets have led the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) to warn that schools in England are facing real terms (that is, money adjusted for inflation) reductions of 6.5% to spending per pupil between 2015/16 and 2019/20.
The IFS noted that:
This would be the largest cut in school spending per pupil over a four-year period since at least the early 1980s and would return school spending per pupil to about the same real-terms level as it was in 2010–11.
But schools having to use a begging bowl to replace lost funding is, sadly, not unusual.
A dystopia in our schools
As BBC News reported, a survey by Parent Teacher Association UK found a third of parents now give money to schools. Some of it goes specifically to “budget black holes”. And as Michelle Doyle Wildman wrote for TES on 9 November:
My youngest son has just started secondary school. On his first day, I was delighted to see that the school had emailed me with what I hoped was a message of reassurance that the new recruits were settling in.
Instead, what I got was a request to donate to the school fund by monthly direct debit. And indeed the vast majority of communications since then have involved money in some way.
You may have read in TES recently about our research into parents’ attitudes towards the cost of sending their child to a state school. Parents told us that costs are going up and becoming an increasing cause for concern.
It is paradoxical that parents who send their children to a ‘state’ school which is publicly funded, therefore free, are worrying about the cost. But in the increasingly dystopian world of Tory Britain, parents paying for schools and volunteers doing essential maintenance on them is now a reality.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?