Schools cannot be under-resourced any longer

BESA’s Resource Our Schools campaign hopes the new government will listen and act to address the critical shortage of funding for school resources in UK classrooms.

Katie Marshall loved teaching. A secondary science teacher, she woke up happy each morning, ready to see her fascinating students and caring staff team. Until she didn’t anymore. The high workload, the lack of staff and the lack of resources eventually took their toll, and she realised she needed to quit.

Katie Marshall is one of the hundreds of people who have signed our Resource Our Schools statement. She signed it because, “Good teachers are leaving at an alarming rate and something needs to change to put this right,” she said.

Indeed, Katie Marshall’s school isn’t the only one that is under-resourced. Earlier this year BESA published research findings revealing that 53% of primary schools and 52% of secondary schools say their school is not adequately funded to provide a suitable teaching and learning environment.

Undertaken by the National Education Research Panel with a representative sample of 906 schools, the research shows that 60% of secondary schools in England are concerned that they are not sufficiently equipped with teaching and learning resources. Meanwhile, only 19% of primary schools strongly agree that they are sufficiently equipped, down from 25% in 2016 and 27% in 2015.

The shift in sentiment regarding the sufficiency of resources was also identified in ICT and furniture provision. This correlates the sharp drop in resources expenditure over the past two years: secondary schools are spending 7.5% less on ICT in 2016-17 than in 2015-16.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has noted these shifts in its own survey, conducted in January 2017. Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, explained:

“Schools are currently being expected to make £3bn of savings by 2020. These reductions put the stability of the whole education system at risk. NAHT’s Breaking Point Survey from January 2017 revealed that eight out of 10 school leaders are cutting back on equipment in order to balance their budgets. Six out of 10 are cutting back on the hours worked by support staff… Any future government needs to commit to fund education fully and fairly, reversing the £3bn real terms cuts that schools are facing.”

The NAHT has signed up to the Resource Our Schools campaign, along with a range of subject associations. In their support statements, both the Geographical Association and the Association for Citizenship Teaching insist on teachers’ need to access “curriculum materials of the highest quality” and “quality education resources”, respectively.

“If the resources in our schools and classrooms do not match the excellence of our teachers and young people, we do them a great disservice,” said Alan Kinder, Chief Executive of the Geographical Association.

Oxford University Press (OUP) is another strong supporter of the campaign. Jane Harley, Director of OUP and school governor, looks to the future to justify her backing of the campaign:

"An investment in education is an investment in the future of the next generation. Schools must have access to quality staff and teaching and quality resources to support children’s learning. The unprecedented squeeze on funding will have a lasting and negative impact and needs to be addressed now. I back the Resource Our Schools campaign to ensure schools are fully resourced to give children the education they deserve."

If you share their concerns for the future of pupils’ education in the UK, sign the Resource Our Schools statement here.

By Caroline Wright, Director General, BESA