I was bemused and angered by Philip Hammond’s budget announcement last week. Whilst we always appreciate extra funding coming into our schools, the tone of the announcement was insulting to say the least. When the government describe the ‘little extras’ that schools can use the money for, I am not quite sure what they mean. Is a set of essential classroom furniture that we have been holding off from buying classed as a ‘little extra’? Or the refurbishment of vital toilet facilities? Or the urgently needed upgrade to our computer science equipment to enable our A Level students to complete their assignments? I am not aware of any school that is not in desperate need of sustained increases in funding. We are reliant on the goodwill and commitment of our fantastic staff team who are continually being asked to do more with less resource. Whilst I am grateful for extra money reaching my school, please do not be fooled by the ‘little extras’ we will be asked to spend it on. The amount we will receive will be a drop in the ocean compared to the amount all schools require.
This announcement followed on from the summer’s press coverage of a ‘fully funded’ pay rise for teachers. Again, please do not be fooled by the tone of the announcement. It is not fully funded – we are working to fund the first 1% of the rise with a real-terms reduction in per-pupil funding for yet another year. The decision to award different levels of pay award for different stages of teachers pay is divisive and unhelpful to say the least. Once again my experienced and hard-working staff are expected to take a real-terms pay cut for yet another year.
People choose to work in schools because they want to make a difference in a valuable and rewarding profession. However, in return we should expect to be valued by society. I understand money is tight. I understand my important role in making sure the books balance. However, to prioritise the funding of pot-hole repairs to a higher level than schools is insulting to us all.