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Primary School Budget Cuts

The education system has changed dramatically within the last 20 years. Teachers and schools are now held wholly responsible for children’s progress. With an expectation that schools should be teaching children a broad and balanced curriculum alongside giving them experiences outside of the everyday. As a primary school teacher working in an Outstanding Academy school in Reading I have felt the cuts on a first hand basis and see the issues that not only children but teachers and parents face on a daily basis.

Budgets cuts have been felt across the public sector, with schools having to cut back on provisions. The government have announced a new funding formula for schools that will see budgets fall in real terms. Justine Greening has said that ‘schools will be given a funding rise of 0.5% per pupil with a 1% increase in 2019-20.’ [1] It is worth noting that a further £1.3bn is to be invested in primary schools. However the formula which will take into account school data and the government’s own spending plans is still likely to be lower than the current rate of inflation. This redistribution will see some schools increasing their funding whilst others will see it cut. This therefore does not seem to be tackling the real issue. For example, children with Special Education Needs no longer receive one to one support and funding. It is required within the school budget to pay for the extra staff members until full analysis has been completed which typically takes over two years (Even then it is unlikely they will receive funding). It is common for a class to have a range of different needs including ASD, dyslexia, ADHD, and EAL (English as an additional language). With the expectation from Ofsted that each child should make the required amount of progress per year this becomes a difficult task in itself. Many schools across Reading are making cuts to their support staff including specialist staff such as Read and Recovery teachers. The cut to these staff then puts further pressure on the class teacher who will be completing the job of not just class teacher but TA and support staff with children who require extra support. Schools are finding it increasingly difficult to employ teachers and it is not uncommon for the senior leadership team having to teach a class as the class teacher role. The dramatic decrease of applications (6.9%) [2] for teacher training therefore has a knock on affect. Notably Secondary schools in England have lost 15,000 teachers and TAs in the last two years’ [3].

The school cuts website can easily put into context the extent of the budget cuts per child which schools in Reading will face despite the redistribution. For example, my school alone will face a loss of £175 per pupil and a total of £56.5K by 2020 [4]. Alongside this it suggests that class sizes should expect to become bigger. The children therefore will suffer as a result of this. If Ofsted require schools to create well rounded individuals which have had a range of experiences during schools then the cuts need to stop. Some schools in Reading have been asking for voluntary donations of over £190 [5]. Reading faces some very deprived areas and therefore these donations are not always possible [6]. The question then follows, what are our taxes paying for?

With continuing cuts there are some ways that schools are trying to overcome this without having to cut back on staff. Schools in Leicestershire are now closing on a Friday afternoon. Both children and staff are sent home and the school week is based upon a four and a half day week. This is the reality that schools face. This will become detriment to children learning [7]. Schools are now trying to gain sponsorships in a number of different ways such as supermarkets donating book tokens and sports equipment. Reaching out to the wider community for support is therefore going to be paramount in maintaining high standards in our schools in Reading and across the United Kingdom. Labour are proposing to reverse the school budget cuts. They are pledging to a 10% real-terms increase in the school budget. This will amount to an extra £4.5 billion a year in today’s prices. Alongside this free school meals will be extended to all primary school pupils [8]. These are just some of the positive steps Labour is planning to take towards our children’s education.

 

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/feb/07/cash-crisis-forces-secondary-schools-in-england-to-cut-15000-staff

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/school-budget-cuts-tories-refuse-new-funding-formula-a7947586.html

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/feb/07/cash-crisis-forces-secondary-schools-in-england-to-cut-15000-staff

[4] https://schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/schools?chosenSchool=8702031

[5] https://schoolsimprovement.net/struggling-caversham-primary-school-appeals-donations-parents/

[6] http://www.reading.gov.uk/jsna/deprivation-by-ward

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jun/28/leicestershire-school-plans-four-and-a-half-day-teaching-week

 [8] https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/9208

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