Blog 20, Mrs Tasker, 28th April 2017
I was working on a new blog about student participation and ways to engage them in the debates around the General Election (and trying to think of a way to stir their interest in my assembly on the topic) when it struck me that it might be best to share this blog again. I wrote it a few weeks ago but it is so pertinent and the financial future for schools is so worrying. It would be fabulous if we could all challenge local and national candidates over the coming weeks to tell us what they will do to address school funding as the future is currently looking very grim.
In the second week in March some of the teachers' unions encouraged school leaders to write to parents and the community to urge them to put pressure on the government about the growing schools funding crisis. They even launched a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #whatwouldyoucut. The hashtag accompanied photos of a range of fantastic opportunities provided for pupils such as extracurricular sport, music, dance and drama. It also accompanied parts of the curriculum that would be under threat as funding decreases such as some languages or arts subjects that are not attracting big numbers at GCSE and A Level. Some schools even tweeted pictures of science experiments and technology workshops. The aim of the campaign was to show politicians and the public impossible decisions that schools must make to cut a total of £3 billion from their budgets by 2020.
Families and students will realise that High Storrs, like all schools across the city and the country, has had to make changes to address the decline in funding. Group sizes are bigger this year, for example. Headline news may have stated for the last couple of years that more money is being spent on schools than ever but that is simply because there are more children; in real terms every school receives less than they used to (in a large school that could be as much as a million pounds per year less than they received five or six years ago).
We did not take part in the Twitter campaign - I understand why many schools did, but it just seemed so sad to share images of brilliant activities in jeopardy. But I did want to write about the dire situation for two reasons. Firstly, I think it is important that our community know how serious the situation is and that decisions we make to increase groups, reduce staffing and possibly limit activities are taken in this very difficult context. Secondly, if the situation is not resolved, High Storrs will have to make further changes and cuts that will limit and mar the education we offer. I think the day will come when I have to ask you to join me in lobbying politicians nationally and locally to do more to secure excellent education for our young people.