A recent TES survey found that teachers, around the UK, are increasingly purchasing classroom supplies out of their own wages due to the government funding cuts that schools are facing.
The survey, conducted jointly with the NEU teaching union, found that 94% of teachers are having to pay for basic teaching apparatus including books, stationery and storage equipment.
While 26% of teachers report paying between £101-£500 per year, a third say they pay between £51-£100. Some teachers say they are asked to make termly donations via direct debit. With funding cuts causing classroom sizes to swell, this cost is only set to rise.
Education sector workers recognise that this is now a regular feature of the job. Andrew Morris, NEU assistant general secretary with responsibility for pay and conditions, said: “Even teachers in their first year of teaching are becoming used to the idea that they have to pay for necessary resources.”
This trend is unlikely to encourage people to join the profession, while teacher recruitment is under harsh pressure. A third of governors surveyed by TES and the National Governance Association have been forced to cut teaching positions, almost half have cut support staff, and a further 36% are expecting to do so in the next two years.
One teacher, Patrick Morrow, spoke to BESA’s Resource Our Schools campaign: “Every year, we are asked to ensure our students perform better and better. We are, however, expected to achieve this with fewer and fewer resources. This has to end!”
Parents are asked for financial contributions
In the PTA UK‘s findings from its parents survey, similar funding issues surfaced as schools have started to ask parents to donate to their child’s education. One third of parents report donating funds to their child’s school to purchase basics, including books and even toilet roll. Schools are also asking parents to pay to attend school concerts and sports events.
However, school leaders only ask parents for donations as a last resort to the funding cuts, as Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteacher’s union, explained: “It doesn’t surprise me that the parents are beginning to feel the pinch and the pressure. And school leaders don’t like it. They are forced into a position of having to balance their books and there simply isn’t enough money in the system.”
In 2015/16, schools asked 37% of parents for contributions whereas this rose to 42% of parents in 2016/17.
The Department for Education’s official statement did not acknowledge the crisis, though: “No parent is required to make a contribution to their child’s education. The rules are clear on this and no policies have been introduced by this government to allow schools to charge for education provided during school hours and this includes the supply of any materials or equipment.”
Many thought the Government should have responded differently. Gareth Davies, from Frog Education, spoke to Resource Our Schools: “The teaching profession needs not just extra funding, but they need to know that their government hasn’t turned its back on them. This is too important to pretend it’s not happening.”
BESA set up the Resource Our Schools Campaign earlier this year, when the funding crisis was deeply felt by schools, teachers and education suppliers. Its aim is to ensure that every school has access to the resources they need to deliver the education that our children deserve.
You can join the more than 500 teachers, union leaders, education suppliers and parents in supporting the campaign by signing up here.