A Headteacher Writes
Dennis O'Sullivan, the headteacher of a secondary school in Hertfordshire, has written an open letter to David Cameron setting out the funding crisis facing schools in England and Wales: 'a school like mine needs to find £500,000 in savings on an income of just under £6,000,000 in each of the next three years.' This is because:
• Your government cut 16% off our 6th form funding (around £500 per student) at a time when you said education funding was “ring-fenced.”
• We have to put an extra 2.38% into teachers’ pensions.
• The government has taken away a National Insurance rebate of 3.4% and looks likely to award the 1.3 million school employees a 1 or 2% unfunded pay rise.
• This adds up to a 7.26% increase in our wage costs and wages makes up around 80% of school spending.
• The Institute for Fiscal Studies shows a 12% cut in funding during your second term.
O'Sullivan goes on to list the ways in which his school might be able to meet those cuts:
• If we cut half our office staff we could save £160,000
• stopped all spending on our school library and dismissed the librarian £35,000
• reduced our caretaking staff to one person £23,000
• and stopped cleaning the toilets so often £7500
• saved 50% on our gas and electricity bills £45,000
• stopped absolutely all staff training £27,933
• sacked 7 teaching assistants £200,000
We would save the £500,000.
The following year, in our dark, smelly, cold school, we could cut all building and grounds maintenance and cleaning; cut all individual support in English and Maths and abandon all extra curricular activities. We will need to sack 6 teachers and would have saved the £500,000. Class sizes will increase to 35 in many lessons. Teachers will teach 5% more lessons.
In Year 3 we find £500,000 by dismissing 10 heads of department and a deputy headteacher. Class size is now over 40 everywhere and we have unqualified, cheaper, staff “teaching” all core subjects.
In a letter to the LRB defending the government's education policy, and in particular 'the reforms initiated by Michael Gove', Toby Young said that 'education reform is and always has been a moral crusade.' Because those always turn out so well.