Education matters, doesn’t it?

Written by: Helen Osgood | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Funding. Funding. Funding. Everywhere you look in our schools we face challenges due to a lack of sufficient funding. Surely education matters more than this? Helen Osgood describes how and why we must take the fight for more investment to our politicians...


As educators, we know the value of education. We know the curriculum, and we try to teach it in a way that is engaging, interesting, and – dare I say it – fun.

By making this learning journey something that children want to travel along with us, we hope to inspire a generation: to instil in them a love of learning and a desire to know more. But we also want to open doors to the future, to ensure that children get the grades they want in the subjects they are passionate about, so they can go on and enjoy apprenticeships, further study and whatever the world of work throws at them.

Across the world, teachers are held in high regard, because education opens the doors to better jobs, better pay – to a better life.

Now, more than ever, we need an educated society. One which stops to question the information we read on social media or hear on the news. The extremes which we have seen for some time on social media, we are now beginning to see in wider society – intolerance, judgement and zealousness – and they are all too present in our schools, too. As teachers we can challenge this and give children the tools to challenge it too.

However, so much of children’s educational experiences can be linked back to their early years.


Early intervention

The developmental and academic achievements of children in pre-school directly impact on their achievements at GCSE (Sylva et al, 2014). As such, we have serious concerns about access to early years education. Pre-school is not a baby-sitting service but is the start of education for children; it is such an important time developmentally.

In a survey of Community members, respondents said that they were already worried about the numbers of pre-school children they had to look after and feared that the planned government changes to ratios (with proposals to change staff-to-child ratios from 1:4 to 1:5 for two-year-olds) would simply lead to less learning and an inability to meet the specific needs of the children.

One respondent told us: “Even at current levels, education often takes a back seat … and I really do not think we can subject these children to a lower level of care and education.”

Early intervention is also key to supporting SEND. The government’s SEND Green Paper wants more children to get the support they need, when they need it. But the funding is not there – and the demand is rising.

Meanwhile, the last three years have seen the numbers of children and young people with a probable mental health condition increase to one in six (NHS, 2021) – five in a class of 30. And with the inconsistency of support available, some are waiting up to two years to get any help.

Early intervention in the early years and better SEND provision will yield huge benefits right through the school system and also into employment. The more educated people are, the higher the economic growth, employment rate and earnings will be in a society. Indeed, UNESCO has said that for every US$1 spent on education, as much as US$10 to US$15 can be generated in economic growth. And yet investment in our education system has not risen in more than a decade (Sibieta, 2022).

Teacher training recruitment numbers are down again (DfE, 2022). Primary ITT recruits are 8% lower than in 2019; secondary recruits are 23% lower.

We continue in our failure to recruit enough new teachers and we do little to retain the experienced teachers we already have – one in 10 teachers quit in 2020/21 (Zuccollo, 2022).

One-fifth of our teacher members have told us that they were already struggling to pay their bills, and support staff members are choosing to leave schools because they can earn a better wage working at budget supermarkets.

This year, teacher pay will rise by 5% for most staff, but schools have not received funding for this level of pay increase.

Teaching assistants and other support staff have been offered £1,925 – a better increase for those on the lowest pay, but still falling way short of inflation, which is raging at more than 12% (RPI).

And again, schools are receiving no additional funding to cover these rises either, leaving them in the unenviable position of having to choose between staffing and resources while holding enough back to cover increasing costs for everything else, not least energy.


Make your voices heard

It is not good enough. We have written to the education secretary asking for the pay increases to be fully funded. We have said that the short-term approach to the energy crisis does not help schools to budget for the future. We have also prepared resources for our members so they can write to their MPs and local councillors to express their concerns, and we will join with the TUC rally on November 2 to make our voices heard.

Because education is important, isn’t it? Education matters, doesn’t it?

  • Helen Osgood is national officer at Community.


Further information

  • DfE: Statistics: Initial teacher training applications for courses starting in the 2022/23 academic year, September 2022: https://bit.ly/3BQnCzb
  • NHS: Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2021: Wave 2 follow up to the 2017 survey, September 2021: https://bit.ly/3owAmpA
  • Sibieta: School spending and costs: The coming crunch, IFS, August 2022: https://bit.ly/3TIkXQ8
  • Sylva et al: Students’ educational and developmental outcomes at age 16, Department for Education, September 2014: https://bit.ly/3BXsFOp
  • UNESCO: Global Monitoring Report, 2012: https://bit.ly/3E2Syir
  • Zuccollo: The teaching workforce after the pandemic, EPI, June 2022: https://bit.ly/3xRyZpF


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