by Susan van de Ven on 1 November, 2018
A Cambridgeshire Headteacher speaks:
“The £400 million announced by the Chancellor barely scratches the surface of what is needed to make up for the erosion of school funding over the last few years.
His comment that the money will help schools ‘to buy the little extras they need’ shows a complete misunderstanding of the prevailing funding pressures. Many schools do not have enough money to provide a full curriculum or individual support for pupils, let alone ‘little extras.’ What they desperately need is improved core funding.
The increasing demand for adequate provision for the growing proportion of children with special needs is particularly challenging.
School funding in real terms has gone down by nearly 8% since 2014. ‘Real terms’ means what the money can buy. The gross figure has increased but there are more children going through the education system. The reduction in real terms money is confirmed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
The proportion of children needing some kind of special help is increasing due to improved medical care, societal and domestic pressures caused by instability in housing and poverty, greater stress in terms of academic expectations in the system at far too early a stage.
There are welcome if small increases in teachers’ pay this year – but this scratches the surface and isn’t enough to stop the exodus of teachers from the classroom. Schools are having to pay higher pension contributions and NI, and an apprenticeship levy as well as higher salaries.
The teachers’ pay rise is not fully funded – schools have to find the first 1% out of their existing budget – and there are different pay rises for different grades of teacher, with teachers on the upper pay scale and leadership scale being awarded below-inflation pay rises. This makes them feel unvalued and will do nothing to halt the recruitment and retention crisis in senior leadership positions.
Particularly badly hit is post-16 where the funding per student has not increased for some years and consequently, the curricular range is being narrowed.”