A teacher in Derby is spending hundreds of pounds of her own money on general supplies because she does not want to stretch the school’s budget any further – or be responsible for a redundancy.
The head of science, who wishes to remain anonymous, chooses to dip into her pocket every month to pay for pens, laminating pouches, plastic wallets and rewards for hard-workers.
Two years ago, the secondary school had the money to provide these items, but now teachers take on the cost to ensure that other important things are not sacrificed. It is an “unspoken expectation”, the teacher says.
“When you are working in a school, you are part of a community and you feel a collective sense of responsibility. So when you see people losing their jobs and students struggling because there are not teaching assistants, then you think carefully about what you are doing about money,” she explains. On average, the science teacher spends £50 a month on stationery, teaching resources and rewards.
“You want to do something to reward students who work hard but there is not the money there for the school to be able to do anything beyond a very basic star chart system, and that doesn’t always work with all students,” she adds.
The teacher has also paid for essentials for less privileged pupils – such as a cycling helmet when she was concerned about the child’s safety and she knew the family couldn’t afford one.
“When you know someone is hard-up, you don’t want to ask them for money and it’s the same with a school. If you know a school is hard-up, you don’t want to ask for money. You feel bad doing it.
“You don’t want to stretch the budget and you don’t want to be partially responsible for the next round of cuts – for the next person who has to lose their job or cut their hours.”