In a drastic move, five teachers from Furzedown Primary School in South London have volunteered to take up to £7,000 per year reductions to their own salaries in order to save two of the teaching assistants facing redundancy. Some of the staff are now on 80% of their full pay to enable the school to continue to offer the same levels of teaching and curriculum to their pupils.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated story. At Minsthorpe Community College in West Yorkshire, the head teacher has effectively sacked himself in order to help the school save money. Ray Henshaw will be taking early retirement this month, with the two vice-principals taking over the running of the school.
Lack of funding has meant some schools have resorted to relying on parents to fund essential supplies like pens and glue sticks, while other schools are closing on Fridays after lunch in an attempt to save funds. Many have been forced to reduce staff numbers, resulting in larger classes and less support for pupils. Parts of the curriculum are also being cut, primarily in creative arts and foreign languages. The Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed that over the last 8 years, funding per pupil has dropped by 8% in real terms.
Head teachers across England are signing up to join the Worth Less? Campaign. Started by Jules White, the head teacher of Tanbridge House School in West Sussex, this non-political campaign aims to challenge the government to allocate funding per pupil much more fairly.
Last year, they organised a rally of head teachers from across the country outside parliament, and they are currently urging all parents to write to their MPs and lobby the Department for Education to make changes and provide fairer funding for all schools, with some schools sending daily letters from pupils begging for change.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has published a study where it found 99% of secondary school head teachers confirmed that they had had to make budget cuts since 2015 due to lack of funding, with a 60% of responses saying the cuts had been severe. Based on a model it has developed, the ASCL believes an increase of £5.7 billion is needed to school funding in order to give schools and teachers the time and resources to ensure every child receives the level of education that they deserve. The current allocation by the government for 2019/20 is £34.5 billion, whereas both primary and secondary schools in England require £40.2 billion.
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