Behind the Education Headlines in May
Cost of Living Crisis
The rate of inflation in April was 9%, up from 7% in March. This represents the highest rate of inflation on record. The rising price of oil and consumer goods have contributed to this and there doesn't look to be an end in sight.
Schools are always an important hub in the community, but there are needed even more so. We have heard of children who are going to school in dirty uniforms as their parents cannot afford to wash their clothes frequently. With more and more families struggling to put food on the table, school meals may provide students one hot, filling meal of the day. Something that is not a viable solution to combat rising costs is schools will have to reduce either the amount or nutritional value of lunches in order to keep finances in the black.
Although there is an energy price cap on homes, this does not cover schools. It was estimated that school energy prices would rise by 93% at the end of 2021. Even back in January, there were reports of schools being billed £50,000 for electricity and £13,000 for gas – a 600% increase. Some of worst affected schools are planning to reduce their teacher recruitment to make ends meet.
Teachers and school staff are also feeling the effects with some staff turning to food banks to survive. Real wages fell by 1% in the three months to February 2022. Although the School Teacher's Review Body laid out government plans for a 16% increase in teachers' starting salaries, the rise in inflation will mean that more experienced teachers have a pay cut of 5%.
Britain's "crumbling" schools
Leaked emails from officials under Nadhim Zahawi to Downing Street have stark news about the state of some of Britain's school buildings.
The email states that "rebuild demand x3 supply" and states the DfE are striving to get £13bn from the Treasury to increase the number of school rebuilding projects from 50 to over 300.
Kevin Courtney of the NEU has said that between 2010 and 2022, funding has been cut by £1.9bn. "while any money spent on school buildings is welcome, the scale needs to be judged against what has been cut, which is 50 times larger." A briefing called "School Building and Capital Funding" has confirmed this large deficit by stating that capital spending has fallen by "29% after adjusting for inflation". Findings from the Condition of School Buildings Survey 2021 found that it would cost the government £11.4bn to "repair or replace" all the faulty elements within British schools. Electrics have the highest cost of repair at £2.5bn while roof and external walls, windows & doors each need over £1.5bn.
6% of the 21,000 schools, which were surveyed in 2017 as part of the school Condition Data Collection programme, were found to have elements that were described as at "serious risk of imminent failure". 69 schools had more than 10 of these "life-expired" elements.
Keeping Children Safe In Education 2022
The Keeping Children Safe in Education report was released. The report contained some important additions to the previous versions. The main additions relate to sexual abuse and violence.
The report "Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Between Children in Schools and Colleges" 2021 has now been incorporated into KCSIE 2022 to protect students from child-on-child sexual violence and harassment. Domestic abuse and the importance of building trust between staff & pupils to ensure they have an avenue to talk about abuse have both been included.
Safeguarding training for governors and trustees and online searches for candidates is also listed as new procedures.