Apparently, schools have never had it so good. There’s more money than ever before and record numbers of teachers are available to work in our schools. This view from Government and the Department for Education lacks credibility and for many schools and their head teachers, our experience is very different.
Over three years, the campaign group Worth Less? has given head teachers a voice to raise legitimate concerns and to challenge unhelpful and misleading / partial information which is regularly put forward by national policy makers. Worth Less? now represents over 6000 primary, special and secondary schools across 35 counties from Cornwall to Cumbria and many points in between. We are entirely non-political and champion three fundamental causes:
- Fair and sufficient funding for all schools
- Much improved teacher supply and retention
- Enhanced social mobility for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged students that we serve
Along with professional associations, groups such as the Head teachers Roundtable, F40 and various parental pressure groups, Worth Less? has helped shape some improved educational strategy and decision making and softened some of the severe financial cuts planned for our schools. It is widely agreed, however, that the current direction of travel from the Government / Department for Education does not take us anywhere near where we need to go. The new National Funding Formula provides a mechanism for financial distribution which is better than before, but a fundamental lack of investment means that it is deeply flawed. In our view, the Government and DfE is still not listening hard enough.
How head teachers can make a difference
On Friday 28 September over 1000 head teachers from across the country will gather at Downing Street to ensure that our schools and the communities that we serve are prioritised. With a collective and entirely reasonable voice we will urge the Government to improve matters both now and in the future.
In the short term, we will emphasise that the chancellor must ensure that major rising cost pressures on our budgets have to be meaningfully addressed and improved. Any public sector pay agreements should be fully funded and crisis hit AEN/SEND and sixth form budgets must be given emergency relief funding. In the longer term, the 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review must ensure that every school is sufficiently funded.
For a long time, individual head teachers have found it difficult to demonstrate the challenges that our profession faces. When we gather at Downing Street we can act as one, regardless of our individual settings or particular needs.
What you can do
- Please save the date – Friday 28 September
- Commit to coming to London and don’t leave it to somebody else
- Organise other local heads to attend with you
Heads in counties such as Cumbria and Cornwall have already said that “they will be there”. Larger counties which are also close to London have committed between 50 and 100 heads per county/area. We will get 1000+ head teachers to join us but, it does depend on a concerted joint effort.
For further details, please see the attached document – a review of Worth Less? – and feel free to contact me for more detailed information.
This is a guest blog by:
Jules White (Chair of the Worth Less Campaign); Headteacher – Tanbridge House School – firstname.lastname@example.org