Getting a good return on your money

3rd March 1995 at 00:00
A parent advises his headteacher how to achieve high-quality education within ever-tighter budgets. Dear Headteacher You have written to parents regarding your funding problems. If I understand you correctly, your preferred solution is simply to be granted more money. Those of us who live in the industrial world find it increasingly difficult to get our customers to pay more and, in the present climate, it is much more productive to look at our own use of resources and become increasingly more efficient.

I am sure that you have also made great strides in the efficient use of resources. However, I thought I might make a few suggestions to reduce your costs further and improve teaching efficiency. Your fundamental cost is the payroll. Your productive resources are your teachers and I, as a parent, need you to get the best possible return from them. I put forward the following ideas: * Teach the low key subjects such as physical education, music and religious education in large class groupings. Put a whole year together for one period per week for each of these subjects and share a teacher with other local schools.

* Prepare courses on video and multi-media equipment, particularly subjects like history, geography and biology. These could be recorded by teachers during holiday periods, could be used for unsupervised selective study periods and provide excellent home study material as well.

* Pay higher salaries for high-quality teachers in challenging and important subjects like maths, science and English. Use lower-paid staff for the "soft" subjects.

* Sack teachers who cannot work to higher standards in terms of effect or results and appoint new staff. Make sure when you do sack somebody that everybody is aware of the true reason: failure, ill health, idleness, etc.

* Have fewer permanent staff and "buy in" selective teaching skills by the hour.

* Set a challenging target for the reduction of teachers and win the support of your 10 best teachers to help you meet the target.

These suggestions might not sit happily in the school environment today, but they are techniques which create high-quality businesses and are increasingly engaging the world of public medicine. They will surely enter your world soon.

Why not be a pioneer and demonstrate that high-quality education can be produced within ever tighter budgets? That way, you will feel more fulfilled, we will all pay less tax, there will be a general trend to high-quality, highly-paid teachers and, perhaps more important still, the children will grow up in an environment which they will recognise when they leave school.

Yours sincerely, H C Marshall

HC Marshall is a parent in Worcestershire.

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