Christmas is approaching, and schools across the country are making preparations for shows, parties, and fundraisers. But as we approach the end of term there is a distinct lack of Christmas cheer for our pupils and teachers, and indeed for anyone interested in making sure that all children, regardless of their circumstances, access the education they need to thrive. The autumn budget brought no relief from the rising cost pressures affecting our schools, and last weekend the Social Mobility Commission resigned en masse, on the grounds that there is no capacity in government to actually deliver on improving outcomes for the poorest children in our society and narrowing the gap between the best and worst off.
Many teachers, especially in primary schools, dig into their pockets to buy their pupils a little token at Christmas. But these same teachers are now also having to pay for pencils and other essentials in their classroom on a regular basis, and there is no sign of that coming to an end. These are the same teachers who have endured 7 years of what the government euphemistically calls ‘pay restraint’ (in other words, a pay cut after inflation). Some of these teachers, like their pupils, are having to turn to food banks to get through the day. Yet again, the government has passed up the opportunity to invest in our children’s future, and instead continues to rely on the generosity of public sector workers to deliver public services. The government has cast itself as Scrooge, so far without redemption. Let’s hope the spirit of Christmas future visits before it is too late.
Rescue Our Schools would like to recommend some Christmas reading/possible presents for education enthusiasts like us?
Education Forward came out a few weeks ago: it is a collection of essays arguing that our education system is stuck in Victorian times, and needs a total rethink to prepare children for the 21st century.
(Rescue Our Schools’ co-founder Madeleine Holt has written an essay on More than a Score, the campaign for alternatives to high stakes testing, esp SATs.)
Another great book is Cleverlands. Secondary school teacher Lucy Crehan goes on a grand tour of countries that Gove/Gibberish praise for their PISA results. She discovers how much they trust teachers, don’t link scores to judging schools, generally don’t set kids etc. A fascinating and easy read.
Finally, a firm favourite: the Truth abour Our Schools by Melissa Benn. A handy summary of the key facts you need when you have to argue against grammar schools/academisation, name your topic!
Pearson uk’s president, Rod Bristow, agrees with NEU joint General Secretary, Mary Bousted, that high stakes testing has harming our education. Rescue Our Schools was at the debate to launch Testing the Water, a report by education thinktank LKM Co on alternatives to high stakes testing. They suggest dropping the EBacc measure, which squeezes outs the arts, no longer linking student test results with teacher pay, and introducing national sampling as an alternative to high stakes tests.
Rescue Our Schools is at the Keep Early Years Unique conference in Brighton, where the brilliant Kym Scott is explaining why children are truly challenged when they are allowed to play. We have been handing out our RoS manifesto and getting lots of pledges of support. Lots of interest too in More Than a Score, the alliance for alternatives to high stakes testing. RoS are proud founder members.
The Government has once again shown that it is out of touch with the concerns of parents and voters in every community who are calling for the investment in our schools which we were promised.
Targeting funding at A Level maths students does nothing to address the funding shortfalls that are afflicting every pupil in every classroom in the country. Rather than tinkering around the edges with gimmicky ideas from clueless special advisors, the government needs to listen to the views of parents – the service users – who are fed up with cuts to our schools.
Our school communities will remain united – parents standing with school leaders and staff – to fight for fair funding for all of our schools. If the Chancellor wishes to prepare our people to meet the challenges ahead he should invest in our children and our schools: our country’s future.
Rescue Our Schools joined fellow national parent groups Fair Funding for All Schools and Save Our Schools in a show of solidarity against school cuts. More than a thousand parents and school staff lobbied their local MPs at Westminster against the continuing cuts.
RoS’Emma Bishton travelled from Suffolk with her son to attend the central London rally addressed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Also speaking was Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and RoS supporter and Green spokesperson on education, Vix Lothian. There were great addresses from Fair Funding founder Jo Yurky and Save Our Schools’ Alison Ali.
RoS co-founder Madeleine Holt, seen with her daughter Sadie, told reporters that if the government doesn’t listen it will be punished at the ballot box. Its official line is still that schools have record levels of funding. So how come our experience as parents and teachers is so different?!
Sir Ken Robinson has given his blessing to the Education Forward movement, of which Rescue Our Schools is a member. RoS co-founder Madeleine Holt spoke throughout the day, sharing both our manifesto and the story of More than a Score, which we helped set up. Eighty head teachers, teachers, parents, academics and future thinkers discussed ways to drag our education system into the 21st century. It was an inspiring day, and the start of something that could transform lives for children and young people.