Arts in decline? No!
Why it is wrong to accept the popular notion that the arts are being pushed out of schools
A study by the New Schools Network has caused many to rethink the notion that the arts are in serious decline in UK schools and that no money is being spent on them.
The argument throughout has been that the government’s requirement for schools to get students through GCSEs in specific knowledge based subjects, rather than creative subjects, means schools have followed this path.
But while some school managements do seem to follow government diktat in a slavish manner, many others don’t take this attitude at all. And indeed the highly successful revolt by many LA schools against enforced academisation, and the continuing failure of parts of the Free School programme, seem to have emboldened many.
Avoid telling teachers what you sell and instead show them their relevance to the current school situation.
I have long been advocating the view that the current changes in school budgets don’t mean that schools will buy fewer products, but rather that they will cut the number of teachers (by far their biggest expense), enlarge classes, and start using other means of teaching.
Further, my argument is that this won’t mean redundancies, but rather will mean simply not replacing staff who leave and abandoning attempts to recruit when applicant levels are low to non-existent.
Recently, articles online and in the press have started to concur with this analysis, and the London Councils’ submission to the DfE’s consultation says, “As around 70% of a school’s budget is spent on staff salaries, funding reductions are likely to result in fewer teachers and support staff posts in schools, as well as increased class sizes.”
Government plans on literacy and numeracy
The latest fad can help sell products, but long term usage comes from getting the teachers to share your belief.
Last year the UK went down a place in international maths rankings. This followed the Daily Telegraph’s campaign the year before to “tackle Britain's growing problem with numeracy skills, where” (the paper claimed) “seven million adults cannot grasp basic mathematics”.
Last year the OECD report rated English teenagers aged 16 to 19 the worst of 23 developed nations in literacy and only slightly better in numeracy.
Many people have had a go at solving what is perceived as the British maths crisis, the British literacy crisis, the British IT crisis, the British science crisis… in fact when it comes down to it we seem to have a crisis in most subjects, except the creative arts (achievement in which the government tends not to notice).
Government redistributes school funding
In December last year the government published a document headed “How schools are going to make £3bn worth of efficiency savings, and the opportunity this brings”
The Education Secretary Justine Greening said that “Funding every child fairly and according to their specific needs sits at the heart of delivering the government’s pledge to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
“The government has protected the core schools budget in real terms since 2010, but the system for distributing that funding across the country is unfair, opaque and outdated. It is based on patchy and inconsistent decisions that have built up over many years and on data that is over a decade old. This outmoded system allows similar schools with similar students to receive levels of funding so different that it puts many young people at an educational disadvantage.
Teacher recruitment crisis deepens
The enormous crisis schools are facing and how companies are starting to turn this to their advantage
The four governments that control education in the UK have a huge problem - they don’t have enough teachers.
Although until now the recruitment of primary school teachers has just about kept pace with the growth in the number of children in schools, the number of children is still growing and is starting to outpace the number of teachers.
In secondary schools, however, the problem has already hit. Only 82% of secondary training places were filled last year just as the expansion of secondary pupil numbers (which of course follows six years behind primary schools) has just started. In 2015/16 15 out of 18 secondary subjects had unfilled places compared with 2011/12, when no subjects had unfilled places. This situation is going to get much, much worse.
Schools that don't play fair
A number of academies have been found to be engaged in serious financial impropriety. What can we do about it?
Last month the government found the Perry Beeches academy in Birmingham guilty of serious financial impropriety having used a company to undertake a health and safety audit which was run by the wife of a member of the committee that awarded the business contract.
According to the Guardian, “This is not a unique case. Across the country, academies have been plagued by allegations of financial impropriety, conflicts of interest and even corruption.”
Academies, being outside Local Authority control, take care of their own financial management and their own accountability. Yet it seems this independence has resulted in things going rather awry in some cases.
What is the future of PSHE?”
The government refuses to make sex and relationship education compulsory in schools
PSHE education is a non-statutory subject on the school curriculum. However, section 2.5 of the national curriculum states that all state schools 'should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice'.
But now the chairs of five parliamentary select committees have written to the Education Secretary for England Justine Greening asking for the government to make sex and relationship education (SRE) compulsory in all schools - something it has refused to do.
The letter expresses concern at the government's response to a women and equalities committee report into the sexual harassment and sexual abuse of pupils in schools.
The one mistake most advertisers make
What is the one mistake that most companies advertising to schools make, and which is easy to rectify?
One of the most effective ways to make email advertising to schools work is to extol the benefits of the product or service on the email, and then provide a link to the features of what you offer on your web page.
With such a system one can easily undertake an analysis of how many people opened the email, how many clicked through to the web page, and how many then either phoned or went straight on to buy the product or service via the website.
When such analyses are done what one finds is that the most common problem arises at the web page. Lots of teachers look at the email, and a fair number then click through to the web page, but the number placing an order is very modest.
Is the schools' budget growing or shrinking?
This summer the UK will run out of school places. It won’t be a huge shortfall but by 2017/18 it will have grown to 200,000 places.
The reason that the UK is running out of school places is simple: the population is rising faster than the number of new places is growing.
This population rise comes primarily from the rising birth rate, and thus it is primary schools that are being affected first, and we can see that they will continue to be pressured for at least another five years.
As for the secondary schools, they are now starting to feel the pinch, but won’t run out of places for another couple of years.
So what does this mean for school funding?
Why it is rarely a good idea to single out free schools or academies when advertising to teachers.
When Free Schools were introduced into England, the model that was used was that of Sweden, with Michael Gove proudly pronouncing that “We have seen the future in Sweden and it works.” Later he added, “They’ve done something amazing. They challenged the conventional wisdom and decided that it was parents, not bureaucrats, who should be in charge.”
The Secretary of State also made much of the fact that the Swedish government that set up the programme had a government that was “far to the left of Britain”.
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