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Education spending was a big topic of debate in the recent election campaign, with all parties promising to put more money into schools.
But is it already too late? A survey of the teacher’s union last year found that 1 in 5 teachers in the UK spent their own money on school supplies because there was not enough money in the budget to provide everything that they need. A shocking 45% also said that they had purchased essentials like food and clothing for students. Why are there so many underfunded schools?
Underfunded Schools: Teachers and parents buying school supplies
Inadequate funding for schools means that essential supplies like textbooks and stationery are in short supply in a lot of places. So teachers are picking up the slack. A lot of teachers say that they are expected to pay for these things because teaching is a vocation. So they should not expect the budget to cover all of their supplies.
Some teachers have also reported receiving low grades on inspections due to lack of supplies. This is despite the fact that they are paying out of their own pocket for things.
In a NASUWT survey in April 2019 – one teacher said:
Typically, I have used my credit on the prepayment system to give children cheese on toast or a hot drink, or any other hot food
The government claims that more money than ever before is going into schools and the support that teachers need is available. But the majority of teachers disagree with this and argue that current funding levels are far too low.
The teacher’s union has been very vocal about this issue and it has received a lot of press attention. However, these stories often overlook the contribution that parents are making as well. While it is true that teachers are picking up a lot of the slack from lack of education funding, parents are also in a similar position.
Personally, we have been asked to purchase books for our school; from guides for language classes, to revision guides.
We don’t begrudge doing so, but what about the families that can’t afford to do so?
Technology has a big role to play here. The introduction of technology into underfunded schools has a lot of benefits because it can enhance the learning environment and improve the quality of education. However, that does mean that all children need regular access to computers and in families that have more than one child, that cost can quickly add up. The amount of homework that children are given means that sharing a single computer between a family is not always practical, so parents can easily end up spending around £400 per child on laptops or tablets.
Underfunded Schools: School trips add up
Educational trips are another big financial stress that parents have to face. Learning in the classroom is not always effective for every child, which is why the school trip is such an important part of the educational experience. These trips give children the opportunity to experience new things and learn in a more practical way.
Unfortunately, it falls to the parents to pay for the trips. Schools are offering increasingly expensive school trips that can cost up to £3500 in some cases, which creates a big social divide between the children whose parents can afford it, and those that can’t. Even the local educational trips often cost over £100 and for a lot of families, that is simply too much. The underfunded schools do not have the budget to pay towards these trips, and that means a lot of children are missing out due to financial constraints.
Clothes cost too
School uniforms are a big problem as well. Parents are often limited to where they can buy certain items. Specialist shops are charging huge amounts of money for items and some schools insist they must be bought from those particular shops.
That means that parents are often paying over £300 per child for school uniforms. Parents also have to pay for PE kits on top of this, and a lot of schools operate a similar policy so parents cannot buy generic clothing at a lower price.
This is leading to a lot of issues for children whose parents struggle financially. It is very common for children to wear clothes that are too small because their parents cannot afford to replace the uniforms.
There have also been a reported 350,000 cases of children being sent home from school because they are wearing incorrect items. This means that financial differences lead to children missing out on education. A massive 95% of parents believe that the cost of uniforms is unreasonable.
Under-funding in education is a huge problem and current government policy is not meeting the challenges that underfunded schools face.
This can mean that it is left down to teachers and parents to pick up the slack and use their own money to ensure that children are getting the education that they need.
We can only hope that funding is increased by enough in the coming years, so that this problem won’t continue and pupils from less affluent background won’t continue to be affected.
Or worse case scenario – the education system becomes beyond repair. 😌🎓
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