In last month’s budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond proudly announced that he would provide £400 million for schools to buy the ‘little extras they need’ for this year. This statement is far removed from the reality of the current pressure on school budgets and demonstrates that the government feels it can simply paper over the cracks with a bonus payment of less than has been committed to repair potholes.
Of course, the government will claim that they are spending more than ever on education: but the real-term spending on education has decreased significantly in recent years. The figures on education spending produced by the Department for Education have been severely criticised by the UK Statistics Authority on four separate occasions recently, one of the complaints being that the DfE continues to include university-student tuition loans as well as fees paid by private school pupils in the overall figure. In other words, the government is misleading the British public about how much is being spent on schools.
The reality of the current situation in schools is very different:
• Teachers are working harder than they ever have with fewer resources, higher expectations and a continually changing educational landscape.
• More teachers than ever are leaving the profession due to an impossible work/life balance.
• It is increasingly difficult to appoint high-quality maths, science and technology teachers.
• Head teachers are having to reduce the number of teaching assistants, with the quality of support for children with additional needs suffering as a result.
• Schools don’t have enough money to buy essential resources, never mind ‘little extras’.
Sadly, this £400 million for these ‘little extras’ is little more than a gesture by a government which clearly does not value a high quality education for our children, despite what it might claim to the contrary.
Mr Alan Henderson
John O’Gaunt School