Once there was a parent. You know the sort, always out for special treatment for their child, complaining if someone else gets to be Mary at Christmas, or if another child is praised for working hard and being kind and helpful, as opposed to their spoilt, idle, over-entitled progeny who expects a round of applause for turning up. This parent would make demands to the Head that the school should buy this or that, and was told the school had no money. So, she joined the governing body and installed herself on the finance committee (these people always want to be captain of everything as adults, as they were too unpleasant and unlikeable to be voted into anything when they were at school) where she found out that, in fact, the school really didn’t have any money.
The government would have you believe that the billions spent on ‘education’ really goes to schools, and that we really do possess all the fancy equipment you see on the adverts for teacher recruitment. Sadly, millions upon millions of that money goes to people who are of absolutely no use to education: image consultants, publishers of SATs papers and the imbeciles who designed those affronts to learning, Ofsted inspectors, consultants who help schools prepare for Ofsted inspectors, the list goes on.
Governments know they’ll only be in power for a limited time, so they take short-term approaches. Do they take the views of real teachers and headteachers about what currently works and what doesn’t? No, this would take far too long and just smells a bit like common sense. Instead, let’s pay people who have never taught – or at least when they did, they soon decided they weren’t great at it, the money wasn’t worth it and so sold their souls to inflict misery on us hardy veterans that remain – to invent new stuff, increase teachers’ workloads regardless of whether these changes were necessary or helpful to the children.
It suits the government when newspapers publish stories of some crooks in academies plundering thousands or using shonky business practices. In education, nothing is based on merit, and it’s always not what you know, but who you know that counts. The vast majority of academies don’t have any financial backing beyond the standard cash per pupil they got before. They are simply able to use that money more freely, rather than having it ring-fenced for IT, building maintenance, etc. as many chunks of money were ring-fenced by the county previously. Real academies get by because they have a person who tracks down any grants, lottery schemes, free initiatives and discounted services on offer, and if you’re lucky, they’ll do a great job and the kids can all benefit.
Each department in our school gets a truly feeble amount of money. I had to ask my friends to repeat it, as I assumed they’d left a zero off when they emailed us. When you’ve paid for exercise books for every child, what’s left is hardly worth mentioning.
The government plans further education cuts across the board, with higher education being hit just like the rest of us. But don’t worry, dear reader. I mean, what country needs well-educated citizens that can become our next doctors, nurses, police officers, firefolk, teachers and other professions with massive staff shortages. There’ll be fewer teaching assistants, fewer teachers willing to sacrifice themselves and their families for the money on offer, so the dilution of the quality of teaching in this country will continue. Our nation will slide further down the league tables and the government will continue its head-scratching and buck-passing, its propaganda and general flim-flam it spins to the public.
Happy half-term, friends.