Opinion: Show schools ‘the love they need’

PUBLISHED: 08:30 12 January 2020

Dr Lawrence Foley says funding for schools is inadaquate.

Dr Lawrence Foley says funding for schools is inadaquate.

Bobby Moore Academy

Since becoming a teacher, Christmas has always been a time when I have tried to switch off completely from work.

A time to do the things that fall by the wayside in the ebb and flow of term time. For me, the thing I miss most is being able to spend time reading for pleasure, getting lost in a book

I found it trickier to switch off this year and pick up a new book. This was in part, I think, due to the election that directly preceded the holiday and the uncertainty that it has ushered in. Both parties made bold claims about increases in school funding which are long overdue. The IFS suggested in September 2019 that schools in England have suffered an 8.3 per cent cut in per pupil funding in the last 10 years. Such cuts to school budgets had not been seen since the 1970s.

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These cuts have meant fewer teachers (with those who are in the building teaching for longer hours), fewer enrichment opportunities, less support for the most vulnerable pupils and - for the first time in seven years - the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers widening.

The Queen's speech on the penultimate day of term did little to allay my concerns. There were no new announcements on school funding other than the pledge made by Boris Johnson back in August to "level up" school funding. It remains to be seen what exactly this means, but what is clear is that whilst the schools budget will increase by £7.1 billion by 2022-23, in real terms this is only £4.3 billion in extra funding. This will, in effect, simply reverse the cuts made since 2009/10.

Though I did not read any new books over the break, I did pick up an old favourite. In it, one of the characters explains how she feels waiting for the man she loves to love her back. It perfectly encapsulates my feelings going into the new year, hoping that our new government shows schools the love they need:

"I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they would go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn't do anything really until the lights decided." Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her.

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