Whilst most schools are in the middle of their Easter holidays, this week has seen further revelations about the impact of the funding crisis.
Today, at the NASUWT teaching union annual conference, it was reported that teachers are now digging into their own pockets to provide basic classroom resources and essentials for their pupils.
A survey of 4,386 teachers found that some 20% said they buy lesson resources with their own money once a week, and 12% said they did so more often, with stationery, arts and crafts materials and books the most common purchases. One teacher even said that a deputy head once told them to buy £10 Nandos vouchers for each year group as a behaviour incentive, which was not to be reimbursed.
Asked why they had bought resources from their own money, 53% of the teachers cited funding pressures on their school, while 30% said that the resources provided were out of date or unsuitable, and 28% that their school had the money but chose to spend it on other things. Two-thirds of teachers said they were never reimbursed for such purchases and 30% were only reimbursed in part. In addition to schools resources, 45% of teachers have spent their own money buying basic necessities for pupils in the last year, with 75% having purchased food, 29% toiletries and 23% clothing or shoes.
And according to a poll for The Sutton Trust, two-fifths of headteachers in primary and secondary schools say they have had to cut back on school trips in an effort to save money. More than two thirds of secondary school senior leaders have also cut back on teachers (69%) and teaching assistants (70%) as budgets are squeezed.
Additionally, schools are using pupil premium money to plug gaps in their funding. The Sutton Trust has urged the government to ensure the spending review takes place as soon as possible to provide clarity for schools on funding and the continued support of pupil premium.
What is clear is that these are more troubling examples of the damage being done by real-terms cuts to school funding, and that the situation will only get worse unless the level of school funding is improved as a matter of urgency. Now, it seems, teachers themselves are shouldering financial burdens to support their pupils, and the NASUWT conference also heard a correlation between budget cuts and pupil violence.
The FundStar team
19th April 2019