According to campaigners, more than 200 schools in England are cutting their school weeks short due to funding shortages. This raises questions over legal ramifications and the responsibility of the government. Jean Tsang, associate at Bates Wells and governor of a maintained primary school, addresses these questions and looks at the worrying effects of this ‘funding crisis’ on the ‘most vulnerable children’ in the educational system.
Why is there a lack of funding for England's schools at the moment? What role has and will Brexit play in this? What issues could this create further down the line for current students and local authorities?
Years of austerity, growing numbers of pupils, the cumulative effect of education reforms and short-term policy initiatives, increasingly complex special needs requirements and additional costs burdens have pushed schools into a funding crisis. Swingeing cuts to local authority budgets have also forced schools to provide additional support to pupils without adequate resources. Schools funding has not increased with these increasing demands. In fact, the Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that total school spending per pupil fell by 8% in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18.
Many schools have either cut or are planning cuts across the spectrum by reducing the number of teaching assistants, replacing experienced teachers with less experienced but more affordable teachers, increasing class sizes and in some cases cutting the school week. Some schools have already started to narrow their curriculum offering and this is expected to continue, with many subjects being limited or taken off the curriculum.
The impact of Brexit compounds these issues facing schools. Brexit is expected to make it tougher to recruit qualified teachers from European Economic Area (EEA) countries and from outside the EEA.
As funding cuts continue to bite, the quality of teaching and learning will suffer, and mental health issues affecting both staff and pupils will likely increase sharply…………….
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