School staff paying for resources to plug funding gap

By agency reporter
September 23, 2017

Virtually all school staff in England are paying for school resources from their own pockets to plug the funding gap, according to a joint survey by the National Education Union and the TES.

The survey of just over 1,800 school staff in England, carried out in August and September, revealed that 94 per cent paid for classroom resources or equipment from their own pocket in the last school year, with a third (33 per cent) saying they spent more last year than in previous years. Nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) said they did so because their school did not have enough funds.

Over a quarter (26 per cent) of them spent between £101 and £500 of their own money on school resources last year and nearly a third (31 per cent) between £51 and £100. Seven in ten (73 per cent) said they paid for stationery, nearly six in ten (58 per cent) said they bought books and four in ten (43 per cent) bought art materials.

Nearly four in ten (39 per cent) respondents said their school asked parents for money to help with school funding last year. Two-thirds (68 per cent) said their school asked parents to pay to attend school concerts and sports events, over a fifth (22 per cent) said school had asked parents to pay for books, with similar numbers asking parents to pay for design technology (22 per cent) and art materials (21 per cent).

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said, “Staff have always been willing to spend some of their own money for the odd item such as prizes for children, but the funding cuts are digging deep. This is making it hard for schools to manage without being subsidised by staff and parents. Parents should not be expected to pay for their children’s education or risk their children missing out on school trips or seeing them perform in school sports if they cannot afford to pay. And it is wrong to rely on the good will of staff, who have seen their own pay fall over the past ten years, to meet the shortfall. The Government needs to fund schools adequately so children can enjoy a full curriculum in properly resourced schools.”

The Head of English in a south coast secondary school, experiencing big cuts, said, “We are being asked to pay for paper towels to dry hands and wipe up spillages. We are also increasingly bringing in our own computers as there is no money to update the aged machines in the school. We look back with nostalgia on the days when the school provided tea, coffee and even food before parents' evenings and when we had cutting edge technology in our classrooms.”

A teacher in a secondary school said, “Just fed up of having to buy pens, pencils, protractors, and at least 10 sets of scientific calculators. This year I even had to buy text books.”

A head of department in a secondary school said, “I buy the green pens, board cloths and plastic wallets for the department as we don't have enough money in the budget. I have had to buy food for students staying for coursework and revision sessions and equipment for activities days.”

A primary teacher said, “There is a constant shortage and rationing of paper and laminating sheets and it’s just simpler to buy your own than fight for basics. Our school has no money, so there’s no point asking for reimbursement for displays or classroom expenditure.”

A head of department in a secondary school said, “We have recently been asked to ‘buy back’ our laptops as the lease had expired and there were no funds. Teachers had access to computers for registration reports, but had to provide their own for online work or preparing work.”

A member of the leadership team in a primary school said, “Previously we have not asked parents for donations to supplement school funding but we will be this year. I think we are asking for a donation of £5 per family each term.”

A teacher in a primary school said, “The school couldn't subsidise school trips so parents were asked to pay. It was made clear that they should be paying even though the fact that it is voluntary was mentioned, it was not emphasised enough.”

* National Education Union https://neu.org.uk/

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